Back on the 8th February I attended my local Meetup created around the great job of software testing, Midlands Testers, in Solihull, UK.
This was the third time I’ve attended the Meetup, but the main reason I wanted to write about it was how it was presented by a co-worker and all around great guy, James. His sessions was titled “Life can be testing”, and was about how we use testing beyond our work lives. It was his first time ever presenting at an event, however from his confidence and ease at speaking with the group, you wouldn’t have though so.
He started off talking about the book Black Box Thinking, which was recommended by the Project Manager on the project he has been working on. He then admitted that whilst he found it an interesting read, he still us yet to finish the book, although he picked up enough to explain certain ideas to us. One was how in medicine, there is an accepted amount of failure. This operation has a % chance of not working or even killing you. That drug has a % chance of producing one of potentially many side effects. Meanwhile the aerospace industry sees failures as a means to improve, and not accept what is currently available. As a result, his team is now being more reflective about what did and didn’t go well, and instead of accepting what didn’t work or go well for them, they’re looking at how they can improve on what happened before.
James then opened up the floor to ask what is the most valuable failure your team has benefited from. I remember one answer was how some executives decided to make a change with water regulations, and due to being such a confusing document it was then accidentally leaked by a journalist to someone they knew who could understand it to help explain it back, and in doing so their expert was able to cause a tremendous drop in share prices. The company learned that in future, any such plans should go through marketing to avoid leaks as well as be more understandable. Even though it wasn’t about testing, I found it interesting to show what happens when you ignore teams with a specific skill (PR and marketing in this case), and suffer the consequences.
Next James went on to talk about Selenium. He is very interested in wanting to learn how to use it and do more with it, whereas I am the opposite (see here for why). We even discuss how if we were to work together on the same project, I would be the one exploring and finding all the weird interactions, before handing the results over for him to automate for future releases and any regression tests we feel appropriate.
He talked about how he looked into how he could abuse Selenium, wanting to create scripts causing interactions with liking pages on Facebook and more. Unfortunately, he discovered most of what he wants to do is against the Terms of Service for Facebook and many other sites, and may even break certain UK laws! So instead, he made a script to playing Jingle Bells on a site hosting a HTML keyboard he found.
He followed this up with his next section, which he titled “Death by pigeon – Testing a theory“. A conversation arose one day with his co-workers around could a pigeon kill you if it flew into your head? And if so, how fast would it need to go?
Instead of letting it go, James showed research he did, including finding a site which gives the speeds for racing pigeons (which I believe was this one). From there he compared it to speeds of boxing blows, as they’re of approximate size. Needless to say, the maths did not looking promising on a pigeon being able to kill you. Personally, the moment he showed the site on pigeon speeds, all I could think of was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, wondering what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is.
Finally, we finished with “Making the headlines“, which was tentatively named “Mock the Week“, where James showed how using the built-in developer tools in web browsers, you can edit sites at the client side. To demonstrate this, we were showed news sites where he edited them to create his own headline, including David Beckham wearing a flatcap, which makes you 100% more northern (and may not make sense to those outside the UK).
At the end, James shared a Slack group he created so those interested in sharing their experiences or wanting to try out some of the things he has done, can do so. It can be located here, although he is looking at amending it so invites won’t have to go through himself, whilst making myself an admin too.
So, did any of this show how you can do testing outside of work? Not really, but James did state that about halfway through, as he tried to think of ways he has or could. But it did get people thinking more.
When the presentation finished it, the Meetup then turned into networking, people talking to one another, and enjoying the free food. It is also the part I simultaneous love and hate, as I like hearing more about what others do, but I get anxious talking to people I don’t know. With a large group it isn’t as bad as they go from individual people who can respond to a mass who are hopefully listening.
If you have a Meetup near you that you can get to, about software testing or anything else you enjoy, I would encourage you to go. Even more so when it is free, along with free food and an open bar! By doing so I know where will be a couple of others going to TestBash Brighton so there should be some faces I recognise, even though I’ll likely be too scared to talk much. I’m even thinking of talking at one of the sessions, likely about some of my blog posts, going into the why’s behind what I’ve written, along with being able to create an open discussion.
Finally, I’d like to apologise for no post last week, which should have been this, but with a week off work it was nice to just shut everything away for a week.