The Testing Show: Conferences and Conferring with Anna Royzman, Claire Moss and Mike Lyles

The Testing Show: Conferences and Conferring with Anna Royzman, Claire Moss and Mike Lyles

August is a busy time of year for software testing conferences (not to mention conferences in other industries). This month, we decided that, with everyone heading off to conferences hither and yon that we would dedicate a show to the topic, and we have done exactly that. Anna Royzman (Test Masters Academy), Claire Moss (DevOpsDays) and Mike Lyles (Software Test Professionals) join us as guests in their capacity as conference organizers, speakers and attendees (not necessarily in that order) to riff on Conferences and Conferring with Matthew Heusser, Michael Larsen and Perez Ababa. Want to know where to go, what format to take part in or if you want to try your hand at speaking/presenting? We’ve got something for all those bases!

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Panelists:

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Transcript:

MICHAEL LARSEN:   Hello and welcome to the Testing Show, Episode… 59

[Begin Intro Music]

This show is sponsored by QualiTest. QualiTest Software Testing and Business Assurance solutions offer an alternative by leveraging deep technology, business and industry-specific understanding to deliver solutions that align with client’s business context. Clients also comment that QualiTest’s solutions have increased their trust in the software they release. Please visit QualiTestGroup.com to test beyond the obvious!

[End Intro]

MICHAEL LARSEN: Hello, and welcome to The Testing Show.  It is August and, by the way, I just want to say to everyone that it is conference season here. One of the reasons that we were talking about this and that we decided we wanted to do this show is, as we were scheduling for August we realized “Hey, who can we get on the show? Oh we can’t because this conference is happening. Oh, we can’t schedule it for this time. This conference is happening. So I just decided “Hey, why don’t we get some people together and literally talk about conferences? So we have assembled a crack panel for you today of some regular conference contributors, active participants and organizers. So with that big long intro… let’s welcome Perze Ababa?

PERZE: ABABA:  Hello, everyone!

MICHAEL LARSEN:  Matt Heusser?

MATTHEW HEUSSER:  Good Time Zone! Happy to be here. Hope you’re enjoying the show.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  Y’all know me, I’m Michael Larsen, your show producer, but let’s welcome our guests. First off, let’s welcome Claire Moss?

CLAIRE MOSS: Hey, y’all!

MICHAEL LARSEN: Mike Lyles?

MIKE LYLES:  Hello, everyone!

MICHAEL LARSEN: And Anna Royzman?

ANNA ROYZMAN: Hi, Friends!

MICHAEL LARSEN: So we’ve got a big panel today. This is great. So I am going to stop doing my typical setup for the show and I will let Matt be our M.C. Heeeeeres Matt!

MATTHEW HEUSSER:  Thanks, Michael! Gosh, we have so much ground to cover. Let’s start with a little bit more of intro for our guests. I met all of them at conferences. Some of those stories are fun. My lie has been transformed by the conference experience. Things would not be where they are if I hadn’t started going. It’s very different to go to one conference a year versus none.  I think it changes your life. So let’s start there. It was at a conference that I met Anna Royzman. She was working at LiquidNet in New York City at the time and we met at CAST. So, why did you go to CAST?

ANNA ROYZMAN: Why did I go to CAST? At some point in my life I realized that I don’t know enough. That was kind of a breaking point after I thought that, “I’m a test manager, so I know everything.” It was like seven years of my profession where I realized that I probably don’t much besides what I know at my workplace. CAST was an amazing experience where I met people who… we kind of understand each other. I never met a crowd in my life who knew what I was going through. That was my CAST experience. [laughter] The very first one, I met so many people who are passionate like I am, who care about the things like I do and who want to learn from each other and enjoy each other’s company and this is how I met all of you as well. Claire and Michael and Perze and Mike and Matt… maybe a hundred other people who are my colleagues for life now!

CLAIRE MOSS:  Truth !

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yea, and while we’re at it… CAST is the Conference for the Association for Software Testing. That’s actually where I met Claire as well. So tell us about Claire.

CLAIRE MOSS: Well, I didn’t have a budget to go to conferences, so the first time I got exposed to “there is a world outside of work and I can be part of it” there was a live stream from CAST. I remember Matt was giving some kind of… lightning talk (?) on this live feed and I was like, “This guy! What does he know?! I’m going to tell him!” I wrote this blog post, I tweeted it… oh wait, no! That was my second conference, because the first one I got into because I found a bug. It was… my boss said “Hey, you should get some training” and I said “Great! It’s the first time I’ve had a budget” and I took an online course that had a bug in it and I ended up on the phone with this guy. Turns out he was the president of that organization and Sid “Hey, you’re a great tester. Thanks so much for helping us out. Why don’t we give you a. Free conference ticket?”, and I said “I can definitely take you up on that!” So I actually went to my very first conference and I was trying to remember when that was… it was 2011. So this is my seventh year of conferring in person. I went into that conference with a very specific plan about how I was going to attend all of these scheduled sessions and which ones the were going to be. I got there and I had no idea how flexible and stream of consciousness it could be. I thought “oh, we’ll go to the room, I’ll take the class, we’ll to the next class, but that’s not the conferring part of conferences at all.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Do you want to tell us about the conferring part of conferences or do you want to tell us about the time that I did a terrible talk and that you got mad and wrote a blog post about.

CLAIRE MOSS: Oh! So when I was watching this live stream, Matt was saying something about how “Agilistas” can be difficult to work with and having only worked in Agile teams, I immediately too offense. I’m like, “No, my crew is awesome!” So I did some research on how teams could be made up and I wrote a blog post and I tweeted at Matt and then, strange to tell, we actually became friends after a friendly debate.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: And let’s be clear, right? I believe in the Agile Manifesto.

CLAIRE MOSS:  Oh yeah, yeah!

MATTHEW HEUSSER: If you’re actually functioning and working together instead of using it as some sort of billy club, then you’re not an Agilista, you’re, like a helpful person.

CLAIRE MOSS: I guess I just never heard the term before and I was like “What are you saying? These are my crew!”

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Yeah, it is kind of not a nice term. It’s

CLAIRE MOSS: No!

MATTHEW HEUSSER: …taken from the Sandinista terrorists in South America in the 80s.

CLAIRE MOSS:  I would also say that this is part of why you go to a conference instead of having online debates. You could co to an event, meet people and have real conversations.

MATTHEW HEUSSER:  Speaking of which we haven’t even introduced Mike yet. Mike Lyles. And there’s some friendly rivalry here. We’ve got Lowe’s and Home Depot represented here at different points in time.

CLAIRE MOSS: Oh, Wow!

MATTHEW HUSSER: Right?

MIKE LYLES: [Laughter]

CLAIRE MOSS: [Laughter]

MIKE LYLES: Yep!

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Or am I confused? Are you both Home Depot?

CLAIRE MOSS: Go big orange!

MIKE LYLES: Naah! [Laughter]. It doesn’t offend me anymore. I’ve been away from Lowe’s for a long long time but I was there for twenty years, and I’m currently a director of Director of QA and Project Management with a company called BridgeTree out of  Mooresville, North Carolina. I’ll tell you how it kind of started for me. Mid-2000’s, I was just joining twitter and I was telling the world that I was into software testing and I wanted to write a book. I got a tweet from a guy who said “I don’t know about writing a book but I’d love to  interview you for an article I do called ‘Ask the Tester’ and this guy was Matt Heusser. I knew nothing about conferences, nothing about writing, or speaking and they say, you know, Steve Jobs says “you connect the dots backwards not forwards” and definitely when I look back at all of this, where I am today, kind of started by that one tweet, and I wasn’t even big on twitter at the time. But I talked to Matt, got interviewed for “Ask the Tester”, which was Software Test Professionals article at the time. Got in that article, that was my big “Everyone’s reading the article, people are stating to connect with me out of nowhere. I’d never met these folks. I got connected with Software Test Professionals. Matt then said ‘I’m going to let you have this position, you can do the article for awhile. I did that. That got me even more involved and got me into speaking at Software Test Professionals and the rest as they kind of say, is history. I was speaking at different conferences, speaking at multiple workshops, got into keynotes. Lat year was my biggest year for speaking in multiple countries all over the world. Before 2017 I had been to Canada once and nowhere else other than the U.S. So it’s been an interesting journey for me and I have to say that one tweet kind of changed the world because I didn’t even know that I could apply for… you have your perception of how people get into conferences before you get there, so one tweet, many many years ago, changed where I am today.  It’s been a great journey for me.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I do want to also mention there’s one aspect for me personally and that is being able to actually go in and record podcasts and record interviews with people was one of the avenues that I used to be able to get in. My very first conference was in 2010. That was to attend what’s called the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference. One of the things that I helped do with that, in addition to being a paper reviewer and in addition to find a way to attend on that end was I pitched to them and said “Hey, you know I’m actually working with a podcast (this was when Matt and I did “This Week in Software Testing” for Software Test Professionals). Would it be OK if I were to interview some of the speakers for our podcast and be able to do some segments for that?” and they said “Oh, that’s great! We’d be really happy to have you do that.” So that was my in for being able to go to that conference and participate in sort of a media capacity. Some people might be thinking “Oh yeah, start a podcast so I can go to a conference?! Seems a little out there [laughter].

CLAIRE MOSS: [laughter]

MICHAEL LARSEN: …but, the point is that there are a number of angles and venues that will help somebody get there and be able to participate in a conference. If you are looking at just the raw price tag for a conference and you are saying “it’s going to cost me $1500 plus travel and all that to get there. I don’t know that Ive got the budget to do that!” Let’s stop. There’s no point in having this conversation any more. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot that you can do and there’s a lot of ways that you can get into conferences and participate with them. You just have to be a little bit creative and if you are willing to volunteer some time and effort, it might get you a long way. In fact, it might even get you a fully paid opportunity to attend a conference where you don’t have to outlay anything.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: I’ like to talk about creative ways to get in, in a moment, but first, I don’t know that we have really explained the business value. So you want a week off, and your boss is going to say “the only thing I know, at the end of your week off, is you are going to come back here and all of the projects are going to be a week late. Assuming it’s free! I pay nothing. All your projects are still a week late. I’ve still got to pay your salary for a week, and you’re going to want to come back in here and want to change the world. You’re going to want to bring some trainers in, bring in some consultants, buy some tools so we’re going to spend money for the opportunity for you to come back and complain about how we need to spend more money. Why should I send you?” As a hiring manager that deals with these kinds of questions all the time, I’d throw that to Perze. How do you answer that?

PERZE ABABA: Wow! Way to lay a heavy one on me. [laughter]. I would… I’m going to answer the question by not answering the question. The one thing that really reminds me, before I get to that, Matt, is that I do owe a lot of my software testing career, really for the people that’s here in this room.  Hearing Mike’s story around the tweet that started all of this, I do remember also in 2010 when I first talked to people on Twitter about testing and stuff that, I believe it was you who reached out to me and started asking questions about how I got into software testing and it opened me up to this whole new world of our online community. It really just started brewing from there. I must admit it took me four years before I was able to join my first conference but I never looked back after that. So I think there’s a lot of things that we could use as excuses so that we don’t go to testing conferences but for the sake of really improving one piece of your testing career, which in this case is heavily leaning on everyone else’s experiences. How they are able to solve problems. For me, that’s reason enough to go to. Now, from a management perspective, we do have some companies… most companies have personal development directives. A lot of the companies do have some budgets for this. There’s going to be a pool of budgets that you can pool into but having a convincing argument, why this will help you personally as a tester and improving it and not just stopping at the point that you went there and then you don’t talk about it. You do have to sow what you actually learned, which is something that most managers would appreciate. Sending someone that would cost, say, a couple thousand dollars is  definitely something that you can talk about but you can always start local. So for us, here in the Northeast we are very blessed with a lot of testing conferences that come in. I’ve been to the one that have been here locally.  Shout out to Anna’s conference. Ministry of Testing are on this side of the world as well. You don’t have to go somewhere very expensive to get the quality content that you need. Start local. Most of the time, the tickets don’t really cost a couple thousand dollars unless there’s something that you’d want to leverage in. I’m sure your boss really won’t mind, especially if the travel expenses are low.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: OK, so the argument is “let’s find a local conference and only miss a day or two”. So we’ve all said “gee, this has sort of led to a persona transformation that has made things awesome for me”. I guess I should tell my story.  I went to the Open Source Conference in Portland, Oregon, and my company paid for it, and that was here I met Danny Fought. Danny told me about STAR and I went to STAREast, and at STAREast I bought a copy of   “Waltzing With Bears” which is sort of this seminal book on risk management by DeMarco and Lister. “Waltzing With Bears” is fantastic. You might argue that it’s a little dated but it’s amazing. Go read it. What it is, really, if you look at it, it’s kind of DevOps before that was a thing. In terms of learning how to reduce risk, through things other than classical testing, looking at how to structure the work, so that you can be successful, despite all of the problems that we always have in development. It sort of reframes testing as something wider. I was able to come back to my company, which didn’t have a testing role and say, “let’s just stop having everything be busy and late and not knowing what we are building before we build it, yet know the deadline. That was just a radical shift in thinking.  The company had six hundred employees at that point. That single book sort of paved the way for them to become what eventually would become a high  functioning Agile shop. That was in 2004.  So that’s my, kind of, “incredible value that changed the entire company from sending one person to a conference kind of story. I think there’s lots of stories like that. They’re just hard to go backward and connect the dots like Mike said.

MICHAEL LARSEN:  What I do is what’s called “live blogging”. As in, I will bring my laptop in and I will actually live blog the sessions that I am attending. Its a stream of consciousness, I’m just writing down what I’m hearing. The cool thing is, that helps the conference because those are blog posts that people can reference and people can go “Oh, that sounds like it was really cool”. It’s also, I sent those out to my team and I say “hey, I was at this event, and here’s my live blog about it, go check this out. So they have a discussion point about what I’ve already presented to them, or if they say “Hey, let’s get into a little bit more detail about these given topics”, I can do that, and that’s a value add right there. My point being is “your notes, the things that you take track of , the things that you are aware of what you are learning,  find a way to share it and also… this is something Matt is famous for saying and I’m probably stepping on his toes… fin three things that you can do immediately that you don’t have to ask permission for. Just go do it. Hang the way you do something based on what you’ve learned at a conference.
“Hey, what’s this that you’re doing? This is… cool.”
“Oh, I learned this at the conference I attended.”
“Really? Hey, that’s neat!”

ANNA ROYZMAN: I want to ad to that. About the value that you are getting from attending talks, networking, sharing, idea exchange from people around the world. In testing, expanding your horizon is part of your profession. Because you keep on dealing with the unknown, you have to deal with some other ideas that needs testing. New software? It’s new. It’s somebody’s idea. How does it fit into what the company needs? What the costumer needs? It always needs to be tested. Expanding your horizon rarely happens when you sit in the same place and do the same work. When you et yourself exposed to something unusual, something challenging, you know, new people, new points of view, new products, you help yourself to get better at what you do. To me that was the real point of  going to the conferences and I love going to conferences so much that I became a conference speaker. Why does it mater? You need people with different experiences. You need people who have innovation at what they do, and you need to be able to hear from them in order to be innovative in your workplace as well.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Claire was saying in the background that she actually picked up Exploratory Testing at conferences and that seems like a big… yeah, me too, so let’s let Claire tell her story .

CLAIRE MOSS:  So, yeah, when I started out with testing, it was a skill I learned on the job. I think that’s a pretty typical origin story. Lots of people fall into testing. I was hired straight out of school but I hadn’t studied testing. When I was being coached at work, we were creating spreadsheets of one line test cases in order to track work that we were doing. That is what I thought the testing process was. That was my only exposure to ho people organized work. Since it was good enough for my bosses and I was neat this I said, “OK, sure, we can do that.” Later, I realized that I am terrible at following directions; I’m just not going to repeat things over and over the same way. I thought that was some kind of personal failing. Later when I went to a conference and found out about Exploratory Testing, I realized it was a strength that I could actually leverage the variations that people are likely to execute as a methodical way of learning more about software testing and quality, and I found that out at a conference.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Sometimes some of the best conversations I have had at conferences, ironically, have not been in the sessions themselves. They’ve been at dinner, or they’ve been at some other location, or they’ve been passing by somebody in the hallway and realizing “Oh, hey, I haven’t talked to you for awhile” and then fifteen minutes later I’ve had this mind blowing conversation where I’ve just found the answer that I’ve been looking for, and it’s not on the schedule.

MIKE LYLES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Another point that I wanted to mention is, if you can’t actually go to a conference, if for some reason it’s just not feasible, there are a number of conferences that are online, either entirely online, or they at least have a component of the conference online. So I want to mandarin that, and I want to get your take of what your opinion  is of online conferences. There is a challenge in that, though, in that even though you are going and you are getting the material, you not in the moment there with the rest of the room. You’re not having that side conversation with somebody siting right next to you. Sure there might be a chat, but that’s not the same thing.

CLAIRE MOSS: I think one of the major benefits of being able to attend an event remotely is that you don’t have all of the logistical complications that it takes to be physically present with other people. You do have the logistical complications of a video conference, which we have seen numerous humorous videos about. I’m not saying it’s friction free, but it certainly is different from having to get on a plane, go somewhere, stay in a hotel… all of those “meet space” things. I’ve definitely gotten value from hearing speakers. I think  major difference between something like an online conference and watching a recording on YouTube is that you have that interactive opportunity to ask questions in the moment. Usually there is a Q&A section for an online presentation.

ANNA ROYZMAN: I think that online is challenging for the speaker as well. There needs to be some kind of facilitation. Otherwise you feel like you’ve been speaking to an empty room because you don’t hear anybody. There’s no dynamics. For me, the online conference just as webinar, you need to insert some kind of  back and forth facilitation, participation, maybe interview type, not a presentation type. I recently participated in Joe Colantonio’s Online Conference and he made it an interview. He invited three test managers. I was one of them. It was the topic I suggested. Instead of presentation we had a conversation. That was much better as a format for the online conference.

MICHEL LARSEN: I want to make a transition here. We’ve gt a number of people here who don’t just attend conferences but actually organize conferences, so I want to get a perspective from the organizers side. When you are organizing, not only do you have to pick a venue, catering and comfort for everybody who attends and the actual participants, you have to actually put together a program, and that means you need speakers. That means you need people who will provide and create content. How do you pick who is going to speak, and we can use this for anyone who says, “well, I’d like to speak at a conference but I don’t know that I have anything worth talking about.” That’s a very common situation that people are in.

CLAIRE MOSS: Well, I think it’s a fear that people have. I don’t think that it’s necessarily a reality.

MIKE LYLES: Well, I think you have to have a really good blend of different types of talks. People love to come to conferences to hear someone that has been doing it for years and have got tons of experience so you want to have a blend of experienced people who are very well known because that’s kind of the headliners and the keynotes and the headliners are people you really want to make sure people know and that’s driving people to the conference and making people come so they can interact and socialize with those folks. But you also want to get those folks who are up and rising, up and coming in the industry, and there’s so many. Each year you can see someone who is just starting. You start hearing their names floating around Twitter or online somewhere and you’re like “I know this person is really going to take off”. I remember a couple of years ago I went to a conference here in Raleigh, North Carolina and I met Angie Jones and it was like “Angie Jones is the name!” Everybody knows Angie Jones now. That’s just one example but you hear people like that that are just starting to take off. The one thing I think that you want to do as an organizer is really make sure that you get people opportunities that want to speak. To Michael’s point, we rally want to find people who we see have that potential. They’ve either got a good abstract or they’ve put together something that’s really good, or they just have an interest and they are like “How can I get started?” And you can work with them. The one thing we do with STPCon, when someone is rejected, we try to give them a rejection letter that has the reason for why and what things they can do. Maybe they can do a webinar with us, maybe write an article with us so that they can get some more experience. You never want to reject someone and say “No, absolutely not”. I had that happen in the early years and it was hard. It wasn’t given to me as a rejection where I was told “Here’s what you can do to improve”, so I think it’s a blend of you’ve got to have a good mixture of experienced people, headliners, you’ve got to have people who are starting to become quite popular in the industry and then you’ve got to have a really good blend of people who really just want to get started.

ANNA ROYZMAN: I can tell about myself. Picking up speakers is a big deal for me because this is really why I started organizing my own conference. Content creation is the essence of the learning experience. Many times I invited speakers and it becomes their debut so I think, out of all the conferences, I probably have the most “newbies” because I really encourage people to speak. It’s part of what I do. I meet people everywhere. Sometimes I go to Meetups and I hear somebody’s talk. This is how I pick up Ash Coleman. I just was in the workshop and I came to her and I said “Ash, I think you need to start speaking”. She said, “well, I’ve been rejected everywhere” and I said “Ash, I’m inviting you to my conference because I think you should start speaking. You have something to say”. This is what I did to Perze. This is what I did to a lot of other people. I’m just inviting them. I hear their story. I meet people as Mick Larsen said. I meet people at conferences at the bar table, at dinner, elsewhere and we just start chatting. This is how you find out that ta person has a passion for something and you really want to expose that to the larger community. I believe that the speakers of the conference are my helpers. They create the content with me. They are actively engaged during the conference. It’s my team, so every time I’m picking the speakers, they are my team for this upcoming conference because we all create this experience which is unique for participants.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I want to make one push here, too. It’s a little bit different. I’ve mentioned the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference a number of times and I’m not specifically drumming for them but they do something that I think is fairly unique. I know that other conferences do this as well but I’ve never seen a conference that does it quite to the extent that PNSQC does. That is, for every speaker that gets accepted, they are also to write. formal paper about their topic. In addition to being able to write a paper, you also get assigned two reviewers who go through and help you to write the best paper that you can. At the end of the conference, in addition to you presenting or speaking, your paper is also part of a permanent proceedings listing. The neat thing about that is that now you are a published author with this paper that people can research and that will show up in searches. You might be surprised how often you get people saying “I saw the paper you wrote in 2012. I think that would be a neat fit for our conference”. I think that’s a great model because once your ideas are out there, people discover that and as they discover that, they also say “Hey, this would be a great person for us to have speak.”

CLAIRE MOSS: I had a similar experience. The Agile Alliance has an experience report track where you write a paper and it’s published in the IEEE Proceedings. I had never written a professional paper like that. I had an editor, a wonderful coach. I don’t know that I would have gone after that if I had had to do this alone. I think having that staff member assigned to me who coach me, edit for me, help me to relate to the audience was really key in doing that.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Let’s talk about the regionals for a minute before we go. Ministry of Testing does a lot of regional conferences. They do a lot of conferences in different regions. I want to mention Ministry of Testing because they are different. They all have one speaker that everybody listens to. I think it’s half an hour, and then another half an hour and then a break and…

CLAIRE MOSS:  Oh, it’s a single track?

MATTHEW HEUSSER: It’s a single track. Now, they do have a workshop day the day before or they have a tutorial day. If they get enough attendees they can have three days; tutorial day, workshop day and conference day but it’s single track so everybody can talk about the same thing, instead of “What did I miss?”

CLAIRE MOSS: I do like what Matt brought up. Formats of conferences. We haven’t really talked about how they can vary. Didn’t know that there were other options out there. I went to an Un-Conference where there was no schedule and we built it on the fly. Then there was an interesting experience I had this year that was the combination of the two. So DevOpsDays is also a regional conference and here in Atlanta we have it in the spring. In the morning there were scheduled talks and some of them were just “Ignite Talks” so they were short form rather than a full session. Then in the afternoon it was open space. That was a new experience for me.

ANNA ROYZMAN: I really appreciate different formats and I would suggest for people who are interested in expanding their knowledge, go to different formats of conferences as well. For example, five day seminars are also good. I went to Jerry Weinberg’s PSL, which is an amazing experience where every day you have half a day seminar and it’s an experiential one. Then Un-Conference, where you come up with the topic as you go. The whole crowd is participating in content creation. The single track, I think, is an amazing experience to be able to sit in the same rom for the whole day (and this is part of my conference as well). You absorb so much that you can start talking to people around you and you can go a little bit above and beyond in your discussions. So I would say experience different formats in different places. Come to the conference and you create your own experience.

MICHAEL LARSEN; So I know we can riff on this all day long but I want to respect everybody’s time, so let’s go; final thoughts on this.

CLAIRE MOSS: So one of the things that’s been interesting for me lately, and I know that this is The Testing Show, but I don’t have a testing title any more, one of the things that has helped me as a tester is to go to events that are not just targeted at testers. Speaking at a developer conference and helping to organize and being on the program committee for a DevOps conference has helped me to expand my understanding of software and the risks I am trying to manage through testing work. Don’t just look at testing conferences. There might be other options out there that will help you learn the thing that is most important to you right now.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: So I’m going to piggy back on that and mention Agile and Beyond in Ypsilanti, Michigan which started out as one of those “you ain’t got no money? We’ll do it for $100 for one day. You can’t get the time off? We’re going to do it on a Saturday, so you don’t miss any work”. Then it quickly grew to, I don’t know,  800 people or something. It’s a fantastic conference and the price is still similar to what it was. They’ve got some pre-conference tutorials and things now. It’s wider than testing. It’s just a wonder broad conference that’s very accessible. Most of us have actually met up at KWSQA.

CLAIRE MOSS: Is their conference called “Targeting Quality”?

MATTHEW HEUSSER: Right! The user group is KWSQA. Mike Lyles, I think has spoken at the user group but not the conference.

MIKE LYLES: Correct.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: The rest of us have mostly spoken at the conference, and they are really nice to their speakers.

ANNA ROYZMAN: I still would like to invite to invite you to visit New York in November for ConTest Conference.  I appreciate PNSQC a lot, for the reasons that Mike said. They let you publish the paper. Also they are very nice organizers and the nicest crowd. I’m doing a keynote at Quest for Quality which is a new conference in Ireland, so do explore. There is a lot of nice things happening, but I would also love to encourage everyone, when you go to a conference, you participate in content creation and driving our industry forward.

MIKE LYLES: Yeah I agree and I think we joke around about whether or not a conference is at a really nice place or its at this location and I’ve went to some really great places all over the world for conferences but at the end of the day you have to look at the content, who’s going to be there, who is going to be speaking, and as Anna and Claire and Perze have said, it’s all about that interaction with the community. I think you do get some of that with online but conferences really give you a great opportunity to meet people, and Michael said it best, just like him some of my best discussions at conferences have been in the hallways with the attendees and the speakers and getting to know folks, so I think if you are somebody out there that has not been to a conference or looking at conferences, it’s more about “What is the content? How have they structured the program? Are things set up in a way where you can touch on everything you hope to accomplish there and be able to bring it back to your office?” More importantly, it’s about the interaction. If you’re looking for a good conference, there’s a lot of people in this room that can help you find one.

PERZE ABABA: Yeah, for me it’s really about local. It’s something you can do to improve your knowledge, or be able to just have the opportunity to share what you know and problems that you’ve solved. There’s times where, if you have the opportunity to be able to go to a conference, please do. Everything else everyone else has said. It really brings value to your career and craft. If you can’t go in person, there are a lot of online conferences that have been mentioned here. Joe Colantonio’s Online Conference. I believe there’s a 24 hour DevOps conference. There’s a lot of developer conferences that you can go to as well from an online perspective. For me, what is really near and dearth my heart is the local meetups. For us here in the greater metropolitan area of the northeast,  NYC has a ton of meet ups from a development, social skill, testing perspectives. Anna and I have been very fortunate to be part of NYC testers. We do look forward to seeing everybody as we move forward into this next phase of Meetups ages and grows. You can also look at testingconferences.com, I believe that is maintained by our very own Chris Kenst, to see if there’s something happening in your local area.

MICHAEL LARSEN: My whole point to this is it doesn’t mater where you go… well, it does mater where you go, you want to find a quality conference, of course, but, just GO! Get started. Go Local. Go a single day. Go online. Get involved and participate and learn and bring something back to your company and again, don’t ask for permission to change the world. Just do it. And that’s it.

MATTHEW HEUSSER: All right! Thank you all for participating. This was fantastic. We are not done. And we’re going to keep talking.

MIKE LYLES: Thanks so much.

MICHAEL LARSEN: All right! Thanks for having us.

ANNA ROYZMAN: Thank you.

CLAIRE MOSS: Take care, yall.

PERZE ABABA: Thanks, everyone.

 

[Begin Outro]

MICHAEL LARSEN:  That concludes this episode of The Testing Show. We also want to encourage you, our listeners,  to give us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts. Those ratings and reviews help raise the visibility of the show and let more people find us.

Also, we want to invite you to come join us on The Testing Show Slack Channel as a way to communicate about the show, talk to us about what you like and what you’d like to hear, and also to help us shape future shows. Please email us at TheTestingShow(at)QualitestGroup(dot)com and we will send you an invite to join the group.

The Testing Show is produced and edited by Michael Larsen, Moderated by Matt Heusser, with frequent contributions from Perze Ababa, Jessica Ingrassellino and Justin Rohrman as well as our many featured guests who bring the topics and expertise to make the show happen.

Additionally, if you have questions you’d like to see addressed on The Testing Show, or if you would like to BE a guest on the podcast, please email us at TheTestingShow(at)qualitestgroup(dot)com.

Thanks for listening and we will see you again in September 2018.

[End Outro]

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