The day got off to a great start with a really fun talk by James Bach called "The Buccaneer Tester." While I was afraid it was going to be yet more claptrap about his particular flavor of exploratory testing, instead it was about how to make a name for yourself in the testing industry. It featured this great video he made from The Towering Inferno showing how a tester approaches disasters.
After a break Matt Heusser started in on "2010 A Test Odyssey: Building a high performance, distributed team," which I thought was going to be tips for working with teams in a variety of different locations but which just didn't hit the issues I was concerned about and talked more about ... I don't know, really, I took almost no notes. I did, however, get kinda weepy reading a post by the_wrong_hands that made me feel like I was leading a really unconnected life, and I was feeling extra sensitive because one of the conference organizers (whom I'd dealt with two years previously) had given me the massive cold shoulder at the end of the first talk and made me feel like a buffoon - and like I was wasting my time thinking I was ever going to make a name for myself in this industry.
After this I spent some time puttering around the wifi zone, where I actually met a guy from England who might know people who would be a good fit for the open test management position at my company. I also bought two books, one on test case design, the other on reporting. The book stall was way too expensive - about 20% more than Amazon - and I later wound up wishing I'd just ordered them and had them mailed.
Then I went to a last minute talk called "Testing Tips from the Great Detectives." I thought it would be fun and light, and it was, only then I realized I could be down the hall at a talk by Bob Galen called "Creating Crucial Test Conversations," so I ducked out the door and immediately got some great tips on selling what QA is doing to the rest of the organization. I talked to him later and he said he'd mail me a four hour version of the presentation, which I will do as the activities were really great and I think I could share it with a lot of people at Il Postino, not just my employees.
Finally it was time for lunch. I went back to the table I'd been at before, and, lo, the same dude I've been sitting next to for lunch for the last three days was there, and we had a good laugh about my night being hit up by the truck driver who couldn't take no for an answer. But I didn't get to talk to Lisa Crispin about my book ideas, which is sad as I would really like to write a test book but could use some guidance.
Then it was back to the main room and to Lee Copelands "Quantifying the Value of Testing." This was another good talk about selling QA, only his point was that if you don't know what people need to prove (or disprove) in the first place, you'll get caught up in creating all sorts of metrics that don't really matter. Ask what the question is first, then figure out how to measure it. He had lots of other good ideas, too, which I'll research more when I'm back at home and can sit down with his presentation at my leisure.
During this talk a guy sat down in front of me who'd responded to a tweet I'd sent earlier with the message, "You should introduce yourself!" (I recognized him because Lisa Crispin had tweeted a picture of him on a scooter jetting around the conference room). I said hi, and we then got into a chat (while he sat at the book signing table) about what was going on at my company and how I might handle it. I don't feel like we came up with any good answers, but I do feel that by articulating what I was thinking of doing, I got a better handle of what my actual plan was, and also that it seemed ... doable! I also think I scared him about the work environment I was dealing with. He liked how I was managing my employees, though. I think how much I like them really shows through.
This conversation carried us all the way through the next to last slot, and I decided against going to the final keynote speech, about how crowdsourcing was used to test Mozilla. I was just feeling burnt out and tired out, and though I tweeted and said I was going to the beach, in fact, I went to the hotel and ... got the treat of my day, a phone call from wechsler. We talked for about half an hour, me about the conference, him about everything else that had been going on in his life. Then I crashed.
After I got up, I tried to go for a swim in the hotel pool, but it was actually too cold (!), so I just read by the pool for a bit (10 minutes max) and went back inside. Then it was off to a Venezuelan restaurant lastwordy_mcgee's mom had recommended to me - and now back here, where I've packed up (I'm checking out of here tomorrow and moving to a schmancier hotel down the road for the last four nights) and am ready to call it a night. I'll leave you with an Anime version of "Gay or European."