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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

uTest and TCL

Crowd sourcing anyone? Not sure what I mean?
Well it was new to me, but when I tried it I thought it was fab!

There's a very interesting company out there. It's called uTest, and if you are a tester then you should really go and have a look at them. Take a look at: utest

So what's so cool about them? Well firstly it's speed. When I retained utest to test our website we went from talking about it in a conference call to fully complete within 24 hours. Now that's cool.

Secondly -> you can make money!
The crowd source community of testers at utest is over 14000 people, and its global. As a tester you get paid by utest for the defects that you raise, which are subsequently accepted by the Client. What does this mean to you and to me? Come home from work, want to make some spare cash, pop on and do some testing from utest. 30 mins, 5 hours, its all up to you. You only get paid for the defects!

Now, why would TCL and uTest form a partnership, I hear you ask (uTest press release) (tcl press release). Community was our first common theme. uTest love testers and the testing community, and of course so do TCL. So, we've been working with uTest to make a special portal that can be used at our peer sharing events. That means that from April onwards when you come to a TCL peer sharing event the products under test will include stuff from utest. You'll therefore be able to earn some money while at the event! Free beer, Pizzas, have some fun, learn something and earn some money!! I don't think that these events can get much better ;)

The next thing we joined up on was speed. High speed. Diverse testing teams. Quick to ramp up. Quick to do the testing. Quick to get the defects into a form that we can work with. Quick to respond to issues. With so many deals done already uTest are showing the way forward for a whole new style of testing. It doesn't work for every app. It doesn't work for every situation, but when it is the right thing to do wow! does it work.

So, uTest and TCL are bringing on demand testing to a peer sharing event and a project near you. Come and ask us about it. (peer sharing events in 2009)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Like Minded People V Event 17th April 2009

In May 2008 I took a couple of people to lunch with a view of networking them with each other.  They were (and indeed still are) entrepreneurs, they all worked in or near Exeter and none of them knew each other before the lunch.  I thought it would be beneficial to each of them that they met.  It was a bit of an inspiration to bring them together, but it seemed like the right thing to do and so I gave it a shot.

The session went well.  The 6 of us had lunch together, and then after a couple of hours I left them to it.  Several stayed on for another couple of hours and some new contacts and even friendships were formed.  I named the event 'Like Minded People' and we agreed to meet up again in a few months and where possible to bring a buddy, with a similarly entrepreneurial mind, along.

Our 6 became 14, and the lunch went on for quite some time.  I left them to it again after a couple of hours, and I think several people stayed for another 3+ hours.  The dialogue was quite far reaching, as you might expect from such a diverse and interesting bunch of people.

So, feeling that something was really starting to develop, we agreed to give it another try and this time we used the Bristol Golf club, and invited some people from different walks of life, and different markets, all with that entrepreneurial spirit.  The original 6 became 25 and when Simon Fox did his (shortish) presentation on TBI Connect we found that the group openly had ideas and inspiration for him, along with contacts and help.  Not only did this help TBI but it gave Simon some personal inspiration and it gave me a big lift that these people, these entrepreneurs, were in it to help each other too.  Rare in such a 'dog eat dog' world and rare amongst people who had all achieved so much.

Like Minded People IV was different again, with a much large contingent wanting to get involved, a donation of venue from the Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter and some sponsorship and contributions from members of the network to help pay for everything.  Our 'show and tell' session had someone looking for funding, an announcement of a joint venture from two of the members and a very interesting 'apprentice' idea from Henry at Circle Recruitment.  Some 35 people came along, and it all seemed very different to the 6 people out for a quiet lunch that happened at LMP I.  We pulled in some group activities at the end of the lunch for those that wanted to stay, and had some external hosting for some Action Learning Sets.  Many people got a great deal from the adventure, and indeed it is now something that I have incorporated into the Management Development of our Senior Team at TCL.

And now to 17 April 2009, when we will be holding our fifth event, in Exeter at the Innovation Centre.  Robin Jackson has kindly provided the venue for us in his sponsorship of entrepreneurs in the south west.  The event is being organised by Vicky Sheppard, out of our Exeter office, and so if you are interested in coming along please book your place with her on +44 (0) 845 869 6070.  Numbers are limited this time, so its first come first served.  Ideally all attendees will have come through by referral, and the key prerequisite is that each person is entrepreneurial by nature e.g. started a company or running a division or venture in a way that requires entrepreneurialism.

The agenda for the session will be simpler this time.  Networking, Lunch, 'Show and Tell' and exit.  Starting around 11:30am and going on formally until about 2.30, informally for as long as people want.

So far the event has proven to be fun, useful, stimulating and a learning experience.  I had never expected it to take on such a life of its own, but it is great to see how it has.  The network will continue as long as people get so much from it, and it supports itself as it has been doing.  So, if you want to be part of it in April, please give Vicky a call ASAP.  I look forward to seeing you there. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

PEST on Tour - the SIGiST experience March 2009

Following on from our inaugeral SIGiST experience in December, we were very excited to be asked back for a further session in March - where we took the PEST experience on tour!! We got great feedback from the attendees - either 4/5 or 5/5 responses from everyone. I guess that means we did the right kinda stuff in the right kinda way.......

The February PEST event had a bond theme, so we brought some of the trimmings with us to give the SIGiST event a bit of a lift. Richard wore his Dinner Jacket for the occassion to add a certain something, and of course we had the bond cut outs, movies and a little casino going on too.

In the session we had three teams who each tested the same bug ridden Bugzilla instance against the clock, and at the same time.

The first team had nothing to support their work -> they just got stuck in and did some prime exploratory testing.

The second team had a specification for the application which gave them something to test against.

The third team had a business analyst who sat with them and gave them guidance.

Over a forty minute period the teams battled it out, and the results were very interesting.

The most defects were found by the team with the BA present. They also found the most 'out there' stuff, including testing in French.

The most impactful and technical defects were found by the team that was purely focused on exploratory testing. This included a security defect and a field truncation issue.

The team with the spec found a lot of defects with the spec itself, as well as with the application and while the spec had helped them it also created problems for them in that they had to try to understand the spec before they could really test anything and there wasn't anyone to ask when things didn't make total sense.

Our mission was to demonstrate how different techniques yielded different results, and indeed this was true on the day. In a world where we are feeling quite a squeeze to budgets, time available, staffing available, we need to pick the right approach for the context of the project and the system under test and indeed as our SIGiST session showed one approach does not fit all.

I really enjoy the SIGiST events, there are some great people there, and some real names are coming along quite regularly now so it is not as dry as it has been in the past. That they are open to our test offs and activities like PEST is also very encouraging. Stephen Allott seems to have his head screwed on right, and he's brought a great deal of innovation to the forum already.

Hopefully things will continue in this vein, and more sessions will become practical and show you how to do stuff, rather than just talk about it. I know the talking has its place, and some of the heavyweight stuff just wont get done if we all spend our time 'playing', but I like the fact that testers do stuff, and it seems unlikely that we can share our knowledge all that effectively without showing people what we do and doing more of it in environments where the collective community can get involved too.

In my opinion there are too many process experts around and not enough test experts. To get more of these, we need forums where we practice our craft and get shown by real experts how to do stuff. We also need places where we can try stuff out (in a micro fashion) to see how it might work when we used it on a project. A day spent at somewhere like a SIGiST, experimenting and learning from others could save us weeks on a big project, maybe even longer. Now that has to be good investment.

To see more about the SIGiST go to:

Come along to the next one. Hopefully we'll be doing test off stuff again -> that is if the BCS still think its a good idea.

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