Monday, April 4, 2011

Fun and Games at STPCon 2011 - Part 2.

At STPCon in Nashville, Wednesday, the second day of the conference itself, I was rather torn. 

My day started with the "Power-up Issues" discussions.  I found myself at a table with people passionate about testing and building teams and expanding team roles - the great regret I had was that it ended far too quickly.  Another 30 or 45 minutes would have been great from my perspective, but, the breakout sessions were starting. 

I knew Lynn McKee was speaking on a topic I was interested in that morning - metrics and how not not get trapped into abusing them.  Well, actually her presentation title was "Deception Dangers of the Numbers Game."  As it was, I had a conflict.  Stuff at the day-job needed attending to and I was also dealing with a developing head cold and laryngitis.  (Not a good combination for a conference.  Oh, and for the Day-job stuff?  I'm tentatively working on a paper called "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Conference.")

So, as much as I would have liked to be there, I did appreciate the tweets (the many tweets) about what she said by Nancy Kelln and others who were present. 

Another presentation I would have liked to see was Jim Hazen's on Automated Testing.  I have known Jim cyberly for some time.  As it was, he was speaking at the same time as Lynn - so again, I had to take a pass. 

Selena Delesie's "Thriving as an Agile Test Manager" and Michael Czeisperger's "Wishful Thinking and Poor Planning: Load Testing in the Real World" both looked interesting to me in the next block, yet I was still not in a place to get there.  While there were some interesting hallway conversations, I was kinda bummed that these presentations were opposite each other. 

Another presentation I really would have liked to see was Catherine Powell's "Agile in a Waterfall World."  As it was, I was doing a joint presentation with my boss at the same time.  We were speaking on our experiences in creating testing groups for companies where there had not previously been one.

The title "No Box Mixes: Building a Test Group from Scratch" was drawn from that idea.  It seems that at every conference I've been at for some time, there is at least one lost soul wandering about looking for ideas or help or something because they were expected to create a test group.  The gist of our presentation was that there may not be a single "right" way to go about it, but there were things to keep in mind, like understanding what your mission is and being patient with yourself, your new team and your bosses.  Kristin, my boss, and I had each been through this and we quite simply compared our experiences at different companies.

Much of Wednesday afternoon I spent in hallway conversations with a number of people.  The one that stands most clearly in my memory was with Karen Johnson.  We spoke for nearly an hour - AN HOUR! - on a variety of topics including strategy (one of my favorite topics) and empowering and encouraging people beyond their own norms and expectations and books and silly interfaces with airline registrations on smart phones.  Mind you, my phone (like me) was clearly the luddite of the conference and so I relied on my trusty laptop to keep me connected to the world.  We also exchanged slide decks and talked about the idea of presentations and presenting and how people perceive our respective, if very different, methods of delivery.  What an amazingly enjoyable time for me.  I came away from that discussion feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the conference, if not the world. 

That evening, the "conference party" was at the Wildhorse Saloon, downtown.  This is owned by the same organization that owns the conference center where we were meeting.  An interesting buffet selection (unless you were a vegetarion or vegan) with some interesting beverages and line-dancing and mechanical bull riding - Selena Delesie recorded some folks riding the bull and generally having a good time (you can find them on YouTube if you search diligently.)

After a brief foray to find my lady-wife some boots (the store was closed, hence the "brief" part) we settled in to a grand time before heading back to the conference center.

Interesting people I met that day included Neil Fitzgerald, Tonia Williams, Corey Anderson, Bill Bennett, Eric Pugh and Todd Miller.  I know there were others, please don't be offended if I've left you out of this list. 

Come to think of it, if I have, drop me a note and refresh my memory!

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