I am just back from EURO STAR at Stockholm. As a ritual, and like an obedient delegate and speaker, I am narrating the experience. It was my first visit to Sweden, home for Alfred Nobel. The conference started with a bang – welcome speech by Dot Graham, the program chair for 2009 edition of biggest European software testing event. After her being first program chair at 17 years ago, she still appear to breathe same energy of someone who is attending her first testing conference.
Lee Copeland, the veteran of testing conferences in the US, who followed Dot as a key note, was at his usual calm and composed best. He spoke on next few big things in testing- a good list to watch out for. His talk also contained slides on good books for the testers to read. Probably it has become a habit for him to promote his book on "Test design" in each of this talk … (I have heard 3-4 of them). He might call it as "Shameless plug" or "No… I didn't mean it include it here", I think he should stop doing it as the book sells on its own merit. Thereafter there were parallel tracks and everyone had a choice to go to the talk that they wanted. This time I like many others, had the power of twitter to spread information about conference, with the hash tag #esconfs, I was one of those many active twitters using tweeting about the talks, and happenings at the conference. Check out all tweets related to this conference here.
As it happens in every conference, much of the action was happening outside the track sessions, people meeting, exchanging cards, and fiercely debating on topics that they hold to their hearts. There I was, roaming around trying to see which group to join. Eurostar Test Lab was in interesting addition to this year's conference, run by James Lindsey and Bart Knaack - was a big distraction (constantly pulling passionate testers towards it and away from the track sessions). I spent few hours of testing and spent some good time with James Lindsey one of my favorite exploratory testing proponent. I logged few bugs too. It was a good experience. James reminded me to explore and find out when I had a question about a feature of the application that I am testing. Here is a report from Michael Bolton on the lab
Michael Bolton was an attraction, true to his image of great speaker and testing wizard. I rarely saw him alone, always surrounded by few people, Michael was just keeping them engaged with his teaser questions and people kept coming to him. His talk - "Burning issues of Day" was a presentation inspired by collection of white board statements of conference attendees, presented in an immaculate MB style. He took mock at several testing folklores and argued convincingly against standardize and over structured software testing practices. One thing that was really remarkable in that talk was Michael's ease and confidence - with which he entered the podium and started the presentation. He was at his total ease. Many wannabe speakers should watch him starting a speech and finishing one. To me, Michael gave an example of "what it means to be being oneself". Good learning there.
It was great to meet/see likes of Jonathan Kohl, James Lindsey, Fiona Charles and Ray Arell. In the conference made few new friends – Johan Johansson, Tobias Fors, Daniel and others. That evening we got together with and headed for a dinner and followed by a meet up at a friend Pabalo's house. That was a chance for me and others to have a go at musical instruments. I settled at Drums, Michael and Pabalo took guitars. The concert went until 12-1 Am. I decided to call it a day as I need to catch up with some sleep before my conference talk next day.
It was a big day for me. Getting to speak at Eurostar has been my dream. My talk was about metrics and how they can be dangerous if used inappropriately. I wasn't nervous and was sure that I will speak my heart. I requested Ray Arell and Fiona to help me with few photos. Michael's and few others presence at my talk, helped. I managed to finish my 15 odd slides at one dot – 39 minutes. Few questions and it ended with applause. I was greatly relived doing my duty at the conference. I plan to write a separate post about that later.
I met this guy Daniel in the conference– he did not carry his business card hence do not know his coordinates. Daniel and I argued for hours about the nature of the software – physical or abstraction. Daniel insisted that software has a 3D physical existence. He even said that he had confirmed this with 2-3 physicists he knew. Software when reduced to its "atoms" or basic units is some sequences of 1's and 0's that are stored on a magnetic material. When we power the computer or a computer like devices, electric current passes through transistors and other electronic components and bring the software to life. Daniel argued that hardware components that held the sequence were real and physical. We could never take the argument to the conclusion. But it was a good argument.
Third day of the conference started with keynote on agile adoption at Intel and experience sharing by Ray Arell. It was a good session with lots of advice on getting agile right. I had to do lots of running between office and the conference venue (yes, I had some official meetings set-up on that day). I track-chaired a session by Aslak Hellesoy on "Cucumber". The session was good and well received. The name cucumber look puzzling to me as why "Cucumber" – Aslak clarified during the presentation that it was the name suggested to him by his fiancé/girlfriend. It is become fashion to name the tools/frameworks companies by totally unrelated names. Steve jobs success with Apple continues to inspire many to name their creations with the names that you typically would never make a connection. In the evening there usual conference rituals like panel discussions, prizes, vote of thanks and announcement of next year's track chair – John Fodeh. Zeger van Hese's paper wins the best paper award, Naomi Karten wins the best tutorial award and Michael Bolton wins best bug of conference. Michael wrote about it here.
In all, it was an excellent experience of being at Eurostar 2009 and at Stockholm. I will carry many memories from it for years to come… Thanks Eurostar!!!!
Don't forget to check out the photo gallery
Check out few reports about this conference
Note: Narrating a story or an event like a conference is tough, I think. I attempted to do it see if you like my story.