Ep 28: You’re like me, I’m never satisfied

Firstly, this week’s title comes from Hamilton, a broadway play about US founding father Alexander Hamilton. I had no special interest in his life until I listened to the music from the show and now I’m obsessed1.

So, last week I went to my first testers meetup. I almost chickened out, but I made it there.

One of the first people I spoke to was someone who was also there for the first time, which was kind of nice – neither of us knew anyone, so we bonded over that.

As the room started to fill up I noticed that 1) the crowd was a diverse lot, which was nice and 2) people knew each other. Whilst that was intimidating, the environment was very open and friendly, and joining in conversations felt easy.

There was pizza and drinks and chat before the main event, during which I met and spoke to James Lyndsay, who is great.

He showed us some challenges – puzzles that he had created to help with exploratory testing. He’s got a few of them on his site2, but we specifically used ones put together on a page for the meetup – these are a smaller set of the ones found on the main site3.

After tackling the first two individually, we split into groups for 15 (3 or 4, with some combination or at least one tester, one suggester, and one observer). The idea was to look at how we were testing, and our reactions to the puzzles, not necessarily what the answers to the puzzles are.

That said, there are two I’ve not figured out properly yet, and its bugging me. I need to find time to look at them properly. I’m not at work next week, so I’ll make time to figure them out. If you know, don’t tell me! I won’t tell you. But if you want to compare notes, maybe, send me a message.

I have a tendency to rush into things – and puzzle 15 proved that when it took me a couple of attempts to breakdown exactly what was happening. I needed a pen and paper to write down what happened and what triggered it, but I didn’t even have my laptop so was using my phone, which made everything awkward (I realised I should have brought a laptop the second I sat down).

The puzzles are simple, but figuring out the correct pattern isn’t always simple – our brains love patterns and that means they’ll find one – sometimes the wrong one over the right one, and then we need to work to look past that to see the correct pattern. We’ll also try to prove ourselves right by performing the same actions, which may lead us to not think about what else we could do.

The puzzles are pretty ingenious – simple enough that you don’t get bogged down in the functionality, but with just enough twists to keep your attention (I totally missed a twist to puzzle 22, which I found out after someone at the meetup let it slip – kicking myself for not thinking about testing that).

After the puzzles we cleared up a bit and when for a quick drink. The conversations were excellent, and I’m disappointed I had to leave early to get home. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Again, being around people who were passionate about testing was brilliant, and reinforced how much I want to be a career tester (and QA), and I plan to spend a fair amount of next week making more podcasts, and getting back into testing (my work has been a lot of admin/organisation work, with less time for testing recently. I miss testing!), just getting back to the thing I want to do with my life.

Footnotes

[1]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrbCFR1FsZk
[2]http://blackboxpuzzles.workroomprds.com/
[3]http://nwtg.workroomprds.com/

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