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Community Spotlight Presents Peter Morgan

  • 07/06/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

The Community Spotlight is a brand new feature on the EuroSTAR Blog which brings to focus those who matter in software testing industry in Europe – you, the members of the EuroSTAR Community!

We want to give you the chance to get to know more about your peers throughout Europe and share your own experiences, career highlights and some fun facts with the testing community by taking our Community Spotlight interview.

This Community Spotlight features Peter Morgan, you may have spotted Peter in the Community Hub at the EuroSTAR Conference last year, Peter is also one of the 2013 EuroSTAR Community Leaders.

1. Name

Peter Robert Morgan

2. Where are you from?

Born in the North of England, on the Lancashire side of the Pennines, but in Yorkshire. Firmly believes that the best thing about Lancashire is the road to the east – towards Yorkshire. I now live just outside the world heritage city of Bath, around 110 miles West of London.

3. Where do you work?

Various. I have been freelance (= short term contracts) in IT for over 25 years, within daily commuting distance of Bath. Currently for an Insurance / Wealth Management firm in Bristol, but have worked with a whole variety of hardware / software / business sectors. I even taught Visual Basic at evening collage during this time. Having recently acquired a zero at the end of my age – born in 1953, you do the maths – I have chosen to move down to working 3 days a week

4. Can you tell us how you got involved in testing?

Like many of my generation, I got into testing by accident, in my case by taking an interest in it. I was put forward for a testing job within the company that I worked with, in fact to lead the test team. It would have meant promotion in an unusual way (which is why I didn’t get the position), but someone had recognised my potential as a tester. This was in 1982: the rest is history ……

5. How many times have you been to EuroSTAR?

Attended my first EuroSTAR in 2002, and have been to TEN – did not go to the 2009 conference. Somehow have managed to get a free place at 5 of those 10 conferences, for a variety of reasons. Since 2003, I have been a track chair at conferences I have attended, which is one of my favourite parts of EuroSTAR. For the last 2 years, I have hosted a dinner on the Tuesday evening, and on both occasions, the about-to-be-announced European Tester of Excellence attended, unbeknown to us all. Fancy your chances of receiving this prestigious award – see you for dinner on the Tuesday evening in Gothenburg! Some people think that this is where the award is decided, with Dot Graham, Erkki Poyhonen and Mark Fewster as ‘the awards panel’ – not true!

6. What’s your favourite hobby?

Walking in the countryside with my nearest and dearest (or if I can’t take my laptop, I will go walking with my wife). ‘Nearest and dearest’ = my laptop – geddit?Only joking, darling, honest

7. Have you any advice to give to a young tester or someone just starting their testing career?

Do not be afraid to ask questions, but concentrate on the answer you are given so that you do not need to ask the same question (exactly the same question) twice. There is no such thing as a dumb question, only a dumb person for not asking a question. Sometimes asking a really ‘dumb’ question – the one that each person was thinking of asking, but incorrectly thought that everyone else knew – can be an extremely clever thing to do.

8. If you could do a project with one other tester/developer/programmer who would it be?

Very easy question to answer: I would have no hesitation in working with Brett Gonzales again. I have come to appreciate him more and more since the wonderful tributes that have flowed in since his untimely death in December 2011, and have seen the incredible testing output from this, the people’s champion. Literally locked up in his mansion, there is a vast array of (largely) totally unpublished material, which it is my responsibility as his literary executor to bring to the attention of the outside world. Currently editing “The Collected Works of Brett Gonzales: Volume 5 – The Golden Years” – what depth, what insight, what imagination. Neatly labelled in his distinctive script, there were documents and manuscripts comprehensively filed. This included nominations for the European Tester of Excellence for 2011, 2012 and several years to come – the 2011 not submitted because of the tragedy of his non-attendance at EuroSTAR that year. His ‘nominations’ for 2011 and 2012 were correctly borne out by the facts – totally correct. What I have come to expect from this immense figure. Also amongst his papers was a small missive labelled ‘2013 – Community Spotlight’ – not only most of the questions used by the EuroSTAR team, but one or two of his own. This has been forwarded to the EuroSTAR team, to appear in due course.

9. If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you like to have with you?

I am assuming that to ask for high tech communications equipment (like mobile phone, or lap-top with internet access) is not allowed. We all know that the government of Polynesia employs huge squads to comb desert islands and ensure that there is no internet or mobile phone access ……………..
So without these possibilities, I have gone for the following:

1. An inexhaustible supply of pen and paper to enable me to write and write and write

2. A Greek / English interlinear Bible, such books are usually limited to the New Testament only. As a little indulgence, I would want the whole Bible. This would prove to be both an intellectual challenge (learning Greek from scratch) and food for the spiritual part of my life, from the greatest book there has ever been.

3. Indestructible semaphore flags, and ‘how to’ manual, I could teach myself semaphore, and signal to passing ships to be rescued. Then Little Jimmy could say to his father, on a cruise ship: “There is that man on that small island with his ‘Please rescue me’ message. We saw him when we were here 3 years ago!”

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

This is one quote from the most quoted person on the planet: “Anon” or no-one-knows-who (if you know otherwise, please let me know), and concerns perspective. “Success is not the position you stand, but the direction in which you look”. Testers are pessimists, and tend to concentrate on the things that don’t work, or the challenges yet to be overcome. It can give a good sense of perspective to see how far you have travelled along the road. Looking at the achievements so far is a wonderful motivator to provoke people to deliver more – to bring the future challenges under control

12. What has been your biggest software testing challenge so far?

Working in a design-by-test project – it’s a nightmare. The amount of initial design is only marginally more than the documentation (none-existent). The three key questions of the software (what does it do? what is it meant to do? and what do the intended users THINK that it should do?) have to continually be answered in parallel, and the only real design energy is undertaken once testing has started, and in response to a small or large “testing hole”. Sometimes, contract staff just have to do what they are told – to have really spoken out against the software development methodology (what-ever it was called, it was really ‘design by test’) would have meant the end of my contract position – off-site within the hour.

Read the previous Community Spotlight interviews here.


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