Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Enabling Learning Through Social Media – LetsTest 2012 Conference

With the advent of social media, it is now possible to view, participate and share conferences from afar. There is no more real need to attend in person. Through this technology you can now catch the mood, follow updates and even talk to those at the conference as sessions unfold. You can connect with people attending and grow your own professional/learning network. Those who want personal contact with their peers this is not the way forward but it does help those who for personal reasons can’t be there.

LetsTest Conference is the most exciting milestone in the history of testing in Europe and most importantly for Context-Driven-Testing School.  The conference kicked off with a good start and it must have been an excited moment and feelings of pride for the Organising Committee. The success of the conference can be measured by the tweets that flowed during the course of 3 days of the event. The feeling of enjoyment about the conference and what it had to offer is obvious from these tweeps. Although the conference is over and all the delegates returned home safely, the tweets have not stopped coming through. Delegates are so full of energy that they wasted no time writing about their reflections on the conference. Some of the early entries are from Ilari Henrik Aegerter on Secret Sauce that Made Let's Test Such a Great Conference , Maria Kedemo  on Reflections from Let’s Test – a conference for everyone?, Huib Schoots on Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 1, Martin Jansson on Let’s Testlab Story and Magnus Wärle on LET’S TEST 2012 and the list is growing.  Other blog entries are summarised in the Useful Links at the end of this article.There was an attempt by enthusiastic Duncan Nisbet to view the tweets from the last week using various twitter widgets as shown by his efforts in his blog. Markus Gärtner and Anders Dinsen were the first to do live blogging of Michael Bolton keynote and images from the conference. No doubt we will be hearing more in the coming weeks and months revealed through various blogposts.

The conference offered something for everyone, keynote speakers; test coaching, workshops, test lab and most of all co-operative safe environments to learn. Everyone went away with a smile on their cheek eager to come back next year for more of the same. I cannot help leaving this comment out that Carsten Feilberg made in one of his tweeps.

 “LetsTest is one of those places where suddenly someone points out an obvious solution which had evaded you until now! ”

What people saying about the Beautiful Runö?

Not everyone stayed indoors, some escaped the busy conference atmosphere and ventured out to explore the countryside around the venue and provided much needed beautiful pictures of the place. Some of the captured images are available here.

What the delegates about party atmosphere?

LetsTest conference was the place to be to meet with your peers and make new friends. The organisers picked the right surroundings, beautiful Runö, for the occasion and created an atmosphere where all enjoyed, learnt and had fun. Even a crash test party was put on by the Conference sponsors Codenomicon to liven the atmosphere. There were 150 people from the testing community sharing their experiences. Organisers ensured that delegates will take back happy memories of the event that would encourage them to come back and tell others to attend.

You really have to talk to people to find out the depth of the feeling about the conference. My observation by reading their tweeps is that the sentiments in the camp were very positive and resounding. There was resonance amongst the delegates that made the conference a success. The efforts that organisers put in contributed to the homely atmosphere at the event. As Ilari summed up, what he mistakenly called blow post that he felt like family & friends gathering. This, to me, goes without saying that everyone left with abundance of ideas and friendly feeling that they will cherish in years to me. I have to say that organisers provided the secret (perfect) sauce for it to be a success. We all will be the witnesses of what they have learnt. The conference had such a seeding effect on testers that would lead to the rise of new talent. It will really have lasting effect on all, participant and organisers alike. 

What people saying about keynote speakers?

There were tweets posted during keynote speaker’s presentations which provided some insight into various topics. I have separated them into bullet points below. They are added for the benefits of those who missed them for any reason. I have left the names of people out from the tweets for simplicity.

Rob Sabourin – Applied Testing Lessons from Delivery Room Labour Triage
  • Bug reports are the most influential testing artefacts you produce 
  • Changing business conditions impact the priority and severity of a bug 
  • Important bug reporting skill many testers need to improve is "knowing your audience" 
  • Role of testing; Provide input to facilitate business decisions 
  • Test more before you make a decision -> I need more information. 
  • "Prioritize testing ideas, just like we do with bugs" 
  • Context is alive. You have to monitor it, adapt it and act on it 
  • context - it's alive! Deal with it accordingly 
  • Bugs are not good or bad - they are important, some have high priority, some have high severity 
  • Be aware of capitalization of development costs, very important part of context 
  • Role of testing; Keep stakeholders aware of issues or concerns that relate to shipping 
Scott Barber-Testing Missions in Context; From Checking to Assessment
  • Testing missions not just about the mission - also about why the mission exists in the 1st place
  • It's not just about the mission, think about the intent behind the mission
  • Context driven does not equal context driver - considering stuff compared to the stuff you consider
  • Missions include purpose, roles, assignments & tasks
  • “The business" are the context drivers
  • Context driven does not equal context driver - considering stuff compared to the stuff you consider
  • Missions include purpose, roles, assignments & tasks
  • The first bullet goes through your plan
  • Question the answer instead of answer the question
  • Taking us through his roles of testing model
  • The first bullet goes through your plan
  • Question: is there really any intrinsic value in having a position/title called "tester"?
  • No plan survives the first big bug
  • Doing live debugging on stage. PowerPoint can be a pain!
  • Giving us a preview of his "software system readiness assessment: model
  • I'm an activist at heart - I like to change things for the better
  • Test mission should consider missions at "command" levels +1 & +2
  • No plan survives initial contact

Carsten Feilberg
·    Bug management can be like playing Ludo
·  Managers don't usually know the substance of the bugs. Yet, _they_ are deciding which ones should be fixed
  •   If managers don't know the substance of bugs, is that not a bug advocacy problem?
Dawn Haynes - Zen of testing
·   Talking about Zen and testing - this book an inspiration
· Awesome presentation!
Q: Can you tell me the industry standard? A: Poor. Would you not want something better than that?
·   Buddhism accords the greatest authority to experience, with reason second & scripture last- Sound familiar to anyone?
·   Buddhist testing rule #3: "You must be open to new ideas and new information; proceed with healthy scepticism”
·  Ask questions; ask more questions. Challenge your assumptions.
·  Very interesting presentation of the similarities in the mindset in Buddhism and in Testing
·   Had my first ever facilitation job today for "The Zen of Software Testing"
·   Plan when we know as little as we will ever know as the project evolves' So true! 

Julian Harty - Open Sourcing Testing

·    The thing with silent evidence is that you don't know you're missing it until you see it
·    Questions the term "world-class testers
·   Be careful when somebody calls you "special"
·    Q: If you're being chased by a tiger, how fast do I have to run? A: faster than you on competitive advantage
·   The more you give away the more you get back
·   We need thriving communities
·   If not now, when - Me: No time like the present

Alan Richardson - Testing Hypnotically

· Communication is not the message sent but the message received
· Ambiguity: "It's simpler than that"
· Ambiguity is bad - Learn about ambiguity in order to know how to avoid it
· Language is the main weapon of a hypnotist, and it is ours too
· Testing hypnotically with @eviltester


· Leo Hepis just demonstrated Satir Interaction Model, awesome!!!!!!
· Certification is like spray-on credibility for zombie testers by Benjamin Kelly
· The scientific method is a heuristic path: its suggested approach - its not a law by Anne-Marie Charrett
· What's your mental model of a year? Discussion in the bar with @henrikemilsson and Markus Gärtner by Maria Kedemo
· Usability was always someone else's problem and someone else was never there by Tobbe Ryber
· Tools shape our theories"- Our theories are way too computeresque by Rikard Edgren
· Focus on customer needs & desired effect, and not on functions -"effect mapping" by @Tobbe_Ryber

How was the atmosphere in the conference?

One delegate summed it up as electrifying, no place on earth can provide you with more impetus to learn than this. It was such a relaxing environment to engage with others and exchanging ideas as is obvious from the picture below. What more you expect from a conference-common minded people gathered at one place to build testing community of the future and advance the cause of craft?

Those who missed out say about the conference

@JerryWeinberg @tobbe_ryber  I so very much wish I'd been able to be there, at  #LetsTest
@danbjson A pity I missed #LetsTest. Would have loved to discuss security testing in an ET context
@stephenjanaway Keep the tweets coming from #letstest. Wish I could have been there
@SoftEdMan: @henkeandersson it's been great to see all the chatter from #letstest - sounds like a great success, congratulations :-)

What people have been saying about the food and entertainment?

You guessed it by watching some of the pictures sent by the delegates below that it was mouth watering and full of Swedish hospitality. Ilari rightly mentioned in his blog that some people might have put on weight by the sheer abundance of Nordic cuisine and Swedish beverages. He also described about the richness of evening entertainments, Xbox games and art tours. It sounds like a place to be where organisers left no stone unturned to ensure that everyone had a good time. There was something for everyone on offer and I got the feeling that all left the event cheerful and rejuvenated.

What about the Testlab?

Martin Jansson summed up his experience leading up to and including the conference very nicely in his blog about LetsTest Testlab Story. The buzz in the testlab started as soon as Johan Jonasson made the announcement, ”Let's TestLab activities underway. Come join!”. Here are some of the comments from the testlab that may convince you about the excitement at the camp.

Aleksandar Simic:  TestLab experience with Rikard Edgren and @eviltester [lots of interesting people to test with]
Markus Gärtner: What happens if you gather 120 bug magnets at a conference hotel? Of course, the check-out system of the hotel crashes.
TheTestLab [largest head count >58 people] (Huib Schoots: Testlab very crowded!!)
Bill Matthews: The let's test crazy gang!
Alan Richardson: Thanks for pairing with me in the test lab, good combo Aleksandar Simic
Zeger Van Hese: Still in the Test Lab - fun times when you're having flies
Simon Morley Had fun pair testing with @RobertASabourin - found a nice nasty bug
Anne-Marie Charrett fun coaching with @ilarihenrik in the test lab. I'm an official test lab rat!
Bot Builder and Louise Perold Watching fearless testers breaking sikuli in the test lab #LetsTest: Watching fearless testers break...

Test Coaching:

This was one of the exciting parts of the convention that attracted lot of attention as seen by the crowd below. This event was orchestrated by Anne-Marie Charrett and was a huge success. She paid tribute to James Bach and summed up her feelings through a twitter message below.  She also expressed her thanks to @richrichnz @MartialTester @Pascal_Dufour @coveredincloth @TesterFromLeic for their help in her coaching workshop.

charrett credits to @jamesmarcusbach for being the godfather of coaching testers #IMHO #letstest

Fun Part:

As with every event there are times are times to relax and as judged by the picture sent by one delegate below that there was time having fun in this case by playing Crouching Tiger.

Last Goodbyes!

Here are some of the tweets from the last moment of the conference which sums up delegates true feeling.

@ilarihenrik @henkeandersson @henrikemilsson @ola_hylten @Tobbe_Ryber @johanjonasson Thanks for the fantastic conference! See you next year #LetsTest
@ilarihenrik To all tester friends at #LetsTest : It's been a fantastic experience. And a big THANK YOU to the organizers
@c_wiedemann Thanks everyone #Letstest andersdinsen Home again - feeling SO good after a great #LetsTest Thanks everyone!
@workroomprds: The 2012 Committee at #LetsTest say goodbye to a great conference:
@MartinNilsson8 What a great conference! I cannot think of one thing to improve. Great people, full schedule and I loved every minute! #LetsTest
@martin_jansson I really enjoyed #LetsTest and the testlab, which was a success thanks to the high engagement and passion by the participants!
@mgaertne: +1 @TestSideStory: I feel very privileged to have been part of the first #LetsTest. Spending 3 days with you all was priceless. Thank you!
@Bill_Matthews @asimic69: @Bill_Matthews #LetsTest The best Lets Test conference ever!” I agree :)
@huibschoots +1 RT @lperold: #LetsTest has been incredible conference! Extremely well organized, amazing speakers, brain-engaged testers & lots of beer!
@FionaCCharles Happily tired after terrific #letstest conference. Heartfelt congratulations and thanks to the organizers - you did an amazing job!
OliverV @LetsTest_Conf #LetsTest Thank you all for 4 awsome days. Had so much fun and met alot of wonderful people and got loads of new ideas.
@henkeandersson RT @TestSideStory: Ola & his committee - famous last words on stage #LetsTest - C'est fini!
@johanjonasson RT @LetsTest_Conf: We have left the building! Love to all u who made #LetsTest to what it is! Can't wait to see u next year & bring friends!
@mariakedemo Thanx everyone for a fantastic #letstest! Special thanx to the organizers. Sorry if I didn't get to say bye to everyone I met. CU next year!
@henkeandersson RT “@LetsTest_Conf: We get very happy when we read all the positive tweets about #LetsTest. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!”
@andersdinsen RT @YorkyAbroad: Superb people, conferring, test lab, setting, activities, organizers + new friends. Thank you all! #letstest /cc @LetsTest_Conf
@eviltester #LetsTest Thanks for a great 3 days, I'm going home with plenty of notes, and a few extra pounds from the best conference food ever
@duelpete A big thank you to all at #letstest for making it an extremely rich experience and to all people taking the time to share and discuss ideas
@JokinAspiazu Thanks to the folks at #LetsTest for sharing such a experience, have a nice trip home! (hoping to be there next year!)
@henkeandersson RT @PaulHolland_TWN: A huge tip of my hat goes to the organizers of #letstest - Congratulations on organizing an amazing conference. Thanks for a great time.
@GoranBakken My first tweet and my first software conference! 3 days @ a great context-driven sw test conference called #LetsTest
@SimonSaysNoMore: Had to leave #LetsTest conference. It was awesome. Hope to be back next year
@julianharty: #LetsTest is one of the best conferences I've been to; and I've been to 100's. Thanks to organisers for brilliant work

Closing Ceremony:

You can be fooled into thinking from the picture below that it was a choir singing Nordic songs bowing to the applause. In fact, as you can imagine that it was the parting goodbye from the committee that has been very welcoming to the delegates throughout the conference, to say goodbye, wish them safe journey and hoping to see them again. I don’t know whether there were tears at the end but it must have been very emotional for some to part with peers not knowing when they will meet them again.

(Ola & his committee - famous last words on stage - C'est fini!)

What happens next?

Preparations for the next year conference are already underway and if you have plans to attend then here is your opportunity to reshape the conference and make positive contributions. Comments made by the delegates who attended this year’s conference prove without any doubt that next year it will be even more fun. Delegates have already expressed who should be invited as keynotes. Some names have been put in the hat and they are Paul Holland, Rex Black and Pradeep Soundararajan. It will be fun! Fun! Fun! all the way. The venue for the conference is likely to be same but it will be held in May 2013. Ilari, in his recent blog, expressed concern about the size of conference next year due to its popularity this year. He is of the belief that bigger does not mean better but maybe we should   limit to the number considering accommodation available at Runö. I agree with him about the venue but not sure about the limit on numbers. Carsten even pleaded that May 7 should not be set because of 13yo. Conference organisers will have hard act to follow in the light of these ramblings. Tweets are still rolling in therefore the momentum has not gone away.

Thank You

Big thank you and congratulations to the organisers Ola, Henke, Henrik, Tobbe and Johan for hosting such an amazing event that will go down in the history of testing as an event to remember. I enjoyed the event through the eyes of twitter as much you did being there. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to attend the next year event but the time will tell how things turn out. I wish you well for the next bumper conference and all the planning that go with it. Please do not hesitate to call upon help if I you need it.

Useful Links

Here are some of the useful links (courtesy of #LetsTest attendees) that you may be of some interest to you.

Slides from most LetsTest talks to be made available here: 
Scott Barber keynote -Testing Missions in Context; From Checking to Assessment:
Scott Barber tutorial slides- Performance Testing in Context; From Simple to Rocket Science:
Richard Feynman: Magnets and Why Questions:
Leo Hepis recommendation-The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond:
Zen and testing: The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality:
Insane Volvo brake test epic fail:
Danish Workshop on Exploratory testing:
LetsTest Consolidated twitter feed at
Secret Sauce that Made Let's Test Such a Great Conference
Reflections from Let’s Test – a conference for everyone?
Let’s Test 2012: an awesome conference! – Part 1
Let’s Test: If it’s not context-driven, you can’t do it here
Let's Test 2012 - A Personal View:’s Test: What I have learned about testing & conferences
Thoughts from Let's Test 2012
Let's Test Raises the Bar for CONFERences

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