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Day 4 of EuroSTAR 2018 – Reporter Update-->
“All good things must come to an end” they say and it is indeed true of the wonderful event of EuroSTAR 2018. Four days of testing carnival was wrapped up today in a truly memorable fashion. Here are the observations about the last day of EuroSTAR 2018.
Key Notes #1 – Dragons of the unknown
James Christie, who is held high regard in the testing world delivered the first key note session of the final day. James brought out a very interesting aspect of how users of real life systems can use software in ways which can bring out issues that were never anticipated during the development phase. These dangers of the unknown can be perhaps referred to as dragons, which in the medieval times was the way to refer to dangers anticipated in unexplored parts of the world. Humans have a tendency to over simplify and redefining complex reality so it becomes easier to manage but this does not mean it rules out things going wrong. The nature of complex systems is that there are emergent and stochastic behaviours. Success and failure is not absolute. It is hard to predict how large systems fail. We can never take a stance of “users should not do a certain action”, users will invariably do things that take us by a surprise. Drawing from his own experience of working in the aviation industry he elaborated how accidents happen due to unexpected interactions. Some of the safety critical systems are built to be resilient rather than robust i.e., failure that does not lead to catastrophic results. Another key aspect is to really know the user. Because at the end of the day it is never a technical problem, it is a people problem!
Track session #1 – As the World Turns
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are the new buzz words of the current day technology sphere. Adonis Celestine, a senior testing consultant delivered a very confident and informative session on the best use of machine learning in testing. Using examples of implementation from his project, he established the steps to be implemented in teaching a machine how to test. He elaborated how the learning needs to come from data and explained how machine can be taught to predict defects, build success, risky test cases etc. Taking the aspect of predicting defects, he demonstrated four steps to machine learning. This involves gathering data, developing a prediction model and testing that model. He further gave inputs around how to test the AI itself which was impressive! He took us through a demo of testing a voice recognition technology for various accents and how it can be tested to work consistently for everyone. He ended the session on making the audience think about how as humans, we are losing skills as technology is advancing (for example, doing arithmetic as calculators arrived, writing or typing skills due to the devices etc.) but also gaining new skills like programming. With the question around how most of us are fine with AI to be our co-worker and not the boss, he made us dwell on our current perception and confidence in machine learning.
Track session #2 – Software Testers Shape & Influence the Conversation!
Testers are often faced with situations where they are ignored, their inputs not taken seriously or do not have a big sphere of influence. This is exactly what Ryan Volker tried to address in his session. Through five techniques he gave us helpful ideas of how to become more influential in our role as testers. Being clear and concise in our communication, being productive by working in a way that addresses the issues of the stakeholders, being comfortable with getting noticed (i.e., making our presence felt), being essential by making our mark and being proud of our work. With real life examples he humorously and effectively delivered this session. He encouraged testers to take pride in their work and to be more engaging with the team they work with, to make sure their voices are heard. This was a very well delivered session.
Track session #3: How to do Quick Tours on your Mobile Apps
Raj Subramanian, a highly experienced mobile testing consultant from USA took us through the key aspects of mobile testing. Through a very interesting hands-on example, he made us understand the various features to put under test in a mobile application or mobile website. The list of aspects to test include application lifecycle, interrupt testing (an incoming voice call while the app is being used), wi-fi to 4G switch over, localisation and many more. In today’s world where smart phone are key to running pretty much everything around us, it is important to ensure good quality on mobile apps. Raj shared excellent tips and tricks with the audience in this connection around the test tools and resources to be used.
Key Notes #2: What Is Your Overall Career Goal?
This session by Karen touched a chord with all of us. When it comes to the question of finding a purpose, be it life or career, it tends to be a bit philosophical and can lead to theoretical outcomes but the beauty of this session was that it put it all in tangible aspects that we could practically relate to. Karen had put immense thought and insight into the idea of how to set realistic career goals. It wasn’t prescriptive which made it even more effective, and instead this session made us all think about our alignment to the path we have chosen that we often forget to reflect upon, as we rush through busy schedules. It is important to pause and introspect what our purpose is in pursuing our chosen career choice. With seven different line of thoughts, Karen made us contemplate about what is the driver to our career choices – is it to make a contribution to our field of work, setting up a business, being a student for life and learn more, earn income which supports other interests in life, help other people or may be it is a collection of many accomplishments – or something else. If we have identified the main driver, we should perhaps seek to understand what is coming in the way of pursuing it – is it the lack of courage, or saving it all for a later phase in life or even feel lost trying to find our purpose. Whatever be the purpose she emphasised is that it is important to do what matters to us
With that the conference was brought to an end by the conference chair with a warm thank you note to everyone involved. The conference ended on a high note for me when the Programme Chair for next year was announced. It is Isabel Evans, one of the gurus of testing, who is a role model and inspiration for me. To be held in Prague in 2019, the next EuroSTAR is already promising to be wonderful!
Congratulations to the full team behind EuroSTAR 2018 on the success of the conference! Kudos to the Conference chair Rikard and his fellow programme committee members who put together a content of a very high order which will be much cherished. Thanks to the amazing core team of EuroSTAR who put their best of efforts in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable conference! To coordinate an event of this scale is an extraordinary endeavour and this team was at work tirelessly the entire time, with always a smile on their face! Their approachable nature, efficiency and composure was much appreciated by the delegates.
It was a surreal feeling when I left the conference venue as I was still buzzing with inspiration, reminiscing the awe inspiring thoughts I came across all through the conference. It is an incredibly humbling feeling when you get that realisation of being a speck in an ocean, that there is so much to know and learn. To put it in the theme “Je sais que je ne sais pas” – I know that I don’t know! To me it is the confirmation of the fact that I know that there is so much that I still don’t know! This leads me to a renewed determination to seek knowledge which is for me the most important takeaway.
I will be further reporting about my final thoughts on the conference.