I think I should post a bit about what I did yeserday during the day, though I'd like to not bore people overly much. I went to a QA conference, a one day event organized by the British Computer Society's Specialist Group In Software Testing. I had a hellish commute thanks to the Wimbledon branch of the District Line being all but closed, so I missed the opening talk on recruiting testers from the ranks of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I did, however, make three other talks of the four I could have seen: Preparing a business case and plan for investment in test (Declan Kavanagh, Irish); Extreme boundary testing (Robert Sabourin, Canadian); and Effective test process improvement (Fran O'Hara, Irish). I left my boss to attend "Managing complex test environments," which is seriously one of my least favorite potential aspects of my job - I prefer to leave this work to specialists. (And I can see many of your eyes are already starting to droop ...)
The "preparing a business case" talk was interesting, but not something I found very applicable because it assumed rather a huge body of experience that I lack, that is, the experience of making presentations to a group of people that you want to give you money. From my point of view, figuring out how to organize a cost benefit analysis was useful, and expressing your needs so that you show you're helping meet an organization's various financial and other goals is very sound principle. However, I don't have the experience at analysing what the various cost factors would be, so explaining how a certain software package would be a money saving investment over the long term, which requires using a lot of data points that I may not even be able to enumerate, is a bit over my head. On the other hand, I've gotten quite close to this with some of the work I've done, so I could probably make it up to the next level if given guidance. That said, I did very much like his point to get people involved and help them feel involved in the decision making process. It's probably just sound practice in the office in general but it was a good one.
Truth be told, what I wish is that I could have heard this gentleman's talk at Eurostar on "Testing as a Business versus the Business of Testing" (or whatever exactly it was called, the point being that you can't operate in a vacuum as if what the needs of a business are aren't relevant to the practice of testing - another paper by him here). I'm going to see if I can find a copy of it online.
The next talk, about boundary testing, was mostly remarkable for the high level of energy of its presenter. I learned about three things: if you enumerate all of the boundaries for anything, you'll likely come up with a number close to infinity; boundary testing is more useful for determining unknown behavior than as a way to verify specified behavior; and if a particular item reacts one way with one input and another way with a different input, the gap/intersection between these two behaviors is where you're going to get your interesting responses. (I should add that I think Mr. Sabourin had a lot of interesting stuff to talk about - but he got one of the short sessions and he couldn't really get it packed in. I would absolutely hear him speak on another occasion.)
Right, I'd write about the third talk, but instead I'm going to get the heck out of Dodge and get to work on my weekend!