#STPCon Interviews – Robert Walsh

Next up in our STPCon 2011 video series is Robert Walsh. Rob is the president of Excalibur Solutions, an agile consulting firm. After giving a session titled Adapting Conventional Testing Strategies for an Agile Environment, Rob took a couple of minutes to share his thoughts about how testers can better fit with an agile processes.

Want to see more interviews from STPCon? Check out the full list here.

#STPCon Interviews – Rex Black

Are you attending STPCon this week in Dallas, TX? If so, good for you! If not, well have we got a treat for you. uTest is a platinum sponsor for STPCon this year, and we’re here meeting with some of testing’s top experts and thought leaders. Oh, and did we mention that we brought along a video camera, too?

For the next couple of days, we’re going to be sharing some quick video interviews with some of the testing world’s smartest people. Keep an eye on the uTest blog to hear some great testing ideas about testing, agile, Harry Potter (wait, what?) and to find out what’s happening here at STPCon.

First up, we got to talk with Rex Black. Besides being an author and former president of ISTQB, Rex was also a Testing The Limits guest back in November, 2010. He’s currently the president of RBCS, Inc., a leader in software, hardware, and systems testing. To learn more, check out the RBCS blog, or follow them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Rex’s keynote was about the importance of metrics in testing. Not just any metrics, mind you. The right metrics!

Want to see more interviews from STPCon? Check out the full list here.

uTest Fall Tour 2011

While everyone is preparing to take it easy and “fall back” this November, uTest is picking up more speed and springing forward! We hope you can meet up with us at one of these upcoming events or at least join us for a quick conversation on Twitter – be sure to stay connected by following the hash tags below.

Oct 11-13 ANAHEIM:  CTIA Enterprise & Apps – we’re here right now! #CTIAEnA

Oct 10-12 SANTA CLARA: Localization World – also attending now, hash tag streaming on their site! #LWSV

Oct 18-20 SEATTLE: SIG Global Leadership Summit – uTest CEO Doron Reuveni joins Google Engineering Director James Whittaker and President of Massolution Carl Esposti for “An Introduction to Crowdsourcing” on Wed,  10/19 @ 3:40pm.

Oct 24-27 DALLAS: STPCon, Software Test Professionals Conf – uTest CMO Matt Johnston keynotes the event on Tue, 10/25 presenting “In-The-Wild Testing: Your Survival May Depend On It”. #STPCon

Oct 26-27 MOUNTAIN VIEW: GTAC, Google’s Test Automation Conference #gtac2011

Oct 28-29 LONG BEACH: SoTeC, Southland Technology Conf – uTest CTO Fumi Matsumoto presents the “10 Tech Trends Altering The Testing Landscape” on 10/29 @ 9:45am.  #SoTecConf11

Nov 1-2 SAN FRANCISCO: CrowdConf – uTest’s Matt Johnston joins Amazon, LiveOps, Trada and GigaOm on Wed, 11/2 @ 2:10pm for a debate panel. #crowdconf

Nov 15-17 SANTA CLARA: E2.0, Enterprise 2.0 – Matt Johnston presents “Is this the Year Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream?” on Wed, 11/16 @2:30pm. #e2conf

Nov 21-24 MANCHESTER (UK): EuroSTAR – uTest VP of Project Delivery John Montgomery presents the “What The Top 10 Most Disruptive Technology Trends Mean For QA And Testing” on Thurs, 11/24 @ 11:00am in the Apps & Mobile track. #esconfs

If you’d like to meet up, shoot us a quick email or tweet – see you there!

Testing the Limits With Jim Sivak – Part I

Another month, another stellar guest for our Testing the Limits series. This time, we shoot some questions back-and-forth with testing expert Jim Sivak. Jim has been in the computer technology field for over 35 years, including a recent four-year stint as the Senior QA Manager at McAfee.  His career as a tester began with the Space Shuttle and over the years has encompassed warehouse systems, cyclotrons, radars, operating systems and now security software.  He is a Senior member of the ASQ and is certified as a Software Quality Engineer (CSQE).

In part one of our interview, we get his thoughts on the dangers of ignoring security testing; the false sense of security in mobile apps and devices; the evolution of malware; managing QA expectations; the meaning of SWAG and much more. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part II.

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uTest: We noticed that you recently joined Unidesk after four years at McAfee. First off, what does Unidesk specialize in? And what are you looking forward to most in this new role?

JS: Unidesk is in the Virtual Desktop space. Our product allows companies to utilize virtual desktops that truly have the look, feel and capability of a hardware desktop. Due to our technology, desktop personalizations are easily managed. Virtual Desktops can become the IT department’s best friend in that changes and patches only have to be rolled out to one system, which then gets replicated automatically to every associated desktop.

Because Unidesk is a startup, I have the opportunity to really define the QA processes and goals, determining both the tactical and strategic visions. Being able to drive this work, using new techniques and past experience is really what brings me to my desk every day.

uTest: Your time at McAfee must have given you great insight into the web’s dark underbelly (i.e. security threats). Looking back over the last few years, what’s surprised you the most about the way businesses and consumers deal with security measures?

JS: Great question, Mike. The biggest surprise is the whole ostrich “head in the sand” attitude that exists. The tools and techniques are there, the information is readily available, but security still takes a lower priority until an incident happens.  Just look at the breaches that appear on an almost daily basis.  In the home, how many emails do people open and respond to that say ‘you have a credit card application ready for you”?

uTest: It seems safe to assume that users are more aware of threats on the web, as opposed to mobile? In your view, how does the explosion of mobile apps, social media and third-party integrations affect security?

JS: It is the sheer volume of opportunity for security lapses and breaches with these new avenues that is really frightening.  Just look at the incidents that have happened because someone sent a malicious link to their networked friends unbeknownst to them. Or applications that contain malware that just get downloaded and incorporated on these devices. People just assume that their phone is secure or that their tablet is unhackable. Again, software providers need to take security seriously and not wait until a major incident happens. It all comes down to the fact the users are human and we take a lot for granted.

uTest: Which evolves faster: security threats (viruses, malware, etc.) or the technology used to combat them? Why is this the case and what are the implications for end-users going forward?

JS: Unfortunately, I think that malware is winning.  Although there is research in trying to get ahead of the bad guys, most technology is reactive—the threat exists first and a solution/detection comes after.

uTest: This might seem like a job interview question, but what were some of the biggest testing challenges you faced at McAfee and how were you able to overcome them?

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Who Will Be This Year’s Software Test Luminary?

Luminary: a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others

You’d be hard-pressed to find a profession with a wider range of ideas and personalities than that of software testing. This point is certainly not lost on our readers, as evidenced by the popularity of our Testing the Limits interview series. And it’s not lost on our good friends at Software Test Professionals, who have opened up nominations for the 2nd Annual Software Test Luminary Award.

More on the nomination process in a second, but first, a little bit about the award itself:

The Luminary award will honor any software testing and quality assurance professional who is determined, persistent, and committed to improving a process or methodology. They develop ideas, which when properly applied, have a positive impact on the end product, either by enhancing quality or performance or resulting in improved efficiencies for a particular process, team or organization. In addition, their contributions elevate the critical role of the software test profession within the software development process.

A luminary is someone who has inspired others by their actions and the results of those actions on the profession. They inspire others to pursue a software testing career. It is about how they have given back, and shared their knowledge and experience with others in order to advance the profession and improve the career paths of all practitioners. A luminary will typically be recognized and respected long after their days of practicing have ended.

If you recall, last year’s honor went to Gerald M, Weinberg, who edged out fellow nominees James Bach and Cem Kaner.

So who will be named this year’s Software Test Luminary? It’s your call. STP will gather nominations and submit the top 3 candidates for a final round of voting. The finalist will be announced at the Software Test Professionals Fall 2011 Conference, October 24-27 in Dallas, Texas.

Here’s a quick timeline of the events:

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Testing the Limits With eBay’s Jon Bach – Part II

In part II of our Testing the Limits interview with Jon Bach, we get his thoughts on responding to change in the testing world; what his brother James Bach has been up to; his criteria for hiring testers at eBay; mobile challenges; searching for defective pocket change and more. If you missed the first session, you can read it here.

uTest: It looks like eBay wasn’t able to keep you off the testing speaker circuit (woohoo!). In fact, you were at STPcon earlier this month – care to give our readers who couldn’t make it a summary of what you covered?

JB: Two things: A workshop with Dan Downing of Mentora, who approached me at the last WOPR (held at eBay in November) and had a cool idea to bring a little slice of WOPR to STP.  It’s for anyone who needs to build a game plan for performance testing.  He called it “Arming Yourself for Performance Testing: War Stories from the Trenches” — http://www.stpcon.com/Item/1032/.

I also spoke about an idea that I’ve been experimenting with after James came back from a business trip and talked about how to respond to project change and chaos: http://www.stpcon.com/Session/13/My-Crazy-Plan-for-Responding-to-Change

uTest: Speaking of James, he has been doing some interesting things the past year as well. What’s the latest testing topic of conversation among the Bach brothers? And did he have any words of advice for you in starting your new job?

JB: He came to eBay and spent a week with me.  I sat him in the cube next to mine and he did some testing from outside the firewall on the guest wireless. I gave him a charter and he executed it beautifully.  The secret about James is, he’s really friendly and service-minded if you’ve managed to win his respect.

We talked CAST 2011 (I’m conference president, he’s my program chair); we talked about new tester games; we shot a new CAST promo video; we talked about Egyptian democracy and systems thinking (how it affects the price of gas).  But just when we were in the thick of testing eBay site page compatibility with IE 9.0, the Japan quake hit and we took time to watch the footage with the rest of the world.  Then we did impromptu research and found out more on nuclear plant  meltdowns, which led to being curious about microseiverts, which led to an article about Byzantine failures.

About eBay, he gave me no advice per se, just ideas for tactics.  He offered some free consulting, which he gave, then said, “I’m proud of you, man. Kick ass.”

uTest: Part of your new role at eBay will be to hire and recruit a top-flight team of testers (in addition to the ones already there). What sort of traits/skills/attributes will you be looking for in particular?

JB: The ability to come up with ideas – either old or new – and execute them in a way that helps us improve notions of Search.  For years, I used the triangle program in test auditions.  Now I use something more simple.  I draw a long horizontal rectangle on the whiteboard with a little “Submit” button below that.  I say “this is a text input field for Search, just like the one you see on the eBay site. Help me create a test plan for it.”  I’m hoping that instead of an interview, it comes across more like an invitation to a real collaboration.

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uTest At STPCon 2011: A Recap

A great time had by all at STPcon 2011 down in Nashville, Tennessee. For those not able to attend (and those who were not following STP’s live stream) I wanted to post a brief summary of the event. Hey, it’s the least I could do.

Though I tried, I was not able to attend every session, so this is far from a complete report. That said, here were a few major themes I noticed throughout the week:

Mobile Is Mainstream

The subject of mobile app testing is getting more and more recognition in the testing world. A sign of the times, to be sure. I started the week by attending a presentation by Rama Krishna Pagadala, the Software Design Engineer in Test for Microsoft, who spoke about the need for real-world testing of mobile applications. He covered many of the same topics addressed on this blog (and mobileapptesting.com), including the unique factors that make mobile a much greater testing challenge. Specifically, variables such as low battery, connection speed, continuously running apps, OS, screen size, user preferences and others.

Rama talked a bit about the performance testing he did for the Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile application for Windows Mobile 6.x phones, including one set of automated tests that measured six performance metrics for 20 different scenarios. Fascinating stuff.

Then there was Karen N. Johnson, consultant and author of Beautiful Testing, who’s second session dealt with Functional Mobile Testing. Here, Johnson used a great series of screen-shots to show how simple web tasks like sign-in, log-out and others are exceedingly complicated when it comes to mobile. She was also very careful to stress the importance of manual testing over automated options, saying something to the effect of, “if you don’t know what you want tested, how are you going to automate it?” Good question, right?

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uTest Spring Tour – Come Rock With Us Like It’s 2099

A spring tour that would make The Rolling Stones proud, here’s where you can find us either presenting, keynoting or exhibiting over the next several months:

  • CTIA – March 22/24 in Orlando, FL (Booth 3194/Apps World)
  • STPCon – March 22/24 in Nashville, TN (Keynote!)
  • SXSW – March 11/15 in Austin, TX
  • Star Testing – March 16 in London
  • QUEST – April 4/8 in Boston, MA
  • Techonomy3 – April 5 in Tel Aviv

If you want to meet up with someone from uTest at any of these events, be sure to email us at marketing@utest.com. Hope to see you there! More in-depth information on each conference, where we’ll be, and on the uTest presentations after the bump.

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Vote for This Year’s Software Testing Luminary

The good folks over at Software Test Professionals want to remind you about a very important election this Fall. No, we’re not talking about the U.S. Congress. And no, we’re not referring to American Idol either (at least not in this post).  Instead, we’re talking about something lasting and meaningful: the 1st Annual Luminary Award.

As described on their award page, this honor will “recognize a person in the software testing and quality community, who inspires others and dedicates their career to industry advancement.” The organizers were looking for someone who has dedicated their career to the betterment of software testing and quality; who has shown exceptional leadership and who has educated, promoted and published on behalf of the industry. In other words, a software testing luminary.

With that type of criteria in mind, we’re not surprised to see Cem Kaner, James Bach and Jerry Weinberg as this year’s finalists. You may know Kaner and Bach from our recent Testing the Limits interviews (Jerry, if you’re reading this, we’d love to have you as a guest as well). But in case you’re unfamiliar with these testing giants, here are clips from their award bios:

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Top Ten Software Testing Events

Quality (pun intended ;)) software testing events are hard to find, but we’ve not only attended and spoken at some fantastic conferences around the world, but we’ve also simply asked around and received some great feedback in order to compile the Top Ten Testing Events.

Much like our Top 20 Software Testing Tweeps post, we need your help in letting us know if we’ve accidentally missed any good ones. Here they are in order of occurrence:

  1. QUEST-Quality Engineered Software & Testing Conference (Apr 19-23, 2010: Dallas, TX)
  2. Rapid Software Testing-By DevelopSense (Jul 5-7, 2010: Amsterdam, NL)
  3. STANZ-Software Testing Australia/New Zealand (Aug 23-24: NZ & Aug 26-27: AU)
  4. CAST-Conference of the Association for Software Testing (Aug 2-4, 2010: Grand Rapids, MI)
  5. STAREAST (passed) & STARWEST-Software Testing Analysis & Review (Sept 26-Oct 1, 2010: San Diego, CA)
  6. iqnite events-Next one in UK-formerly Software & Systems Quality (Oct 4, 2010: London, UK)
  7. STPCon-Software Test Professionals Conference (Oct 19-21, 2010: Las Vegas, NV)
  8. GTAC-Google Test Automation Conference (Oct 28-29, 2010: Hyderabad, India)
  9. Expo: QA (Nov 16-18, 2010: Madrid, Spain)
  10. EuroSTAR (Nov 29-Dec 2, 2010: Copenhagen, Denmark)

Have we omitted any noteworthy testing conferences you’ve recently attended? Please add your recommendations in the comments and they’ll be placed in the running to join the top events list. Maybe we can make this list a Top 15!

UPDATE: So far, some really great recommendations from our community include O’Reilly Velocity, Bangalore Workshop on Software Testing and VISTACON 2010 (the first Vietnam International Software Testing & Automation Conference).