After a long day at one of the best software testing conferences I’ve attended, I opened the door to my hotel room and found it full of Stareast keynote speakers, track presenters, and five author/editors of testing books I had recently been reading. It was like some creepy tester fantasy. About half of my favorite tester thinkers had gathered into my hotel room and were conducting lightning talks in front of a flip chart and flat screen TV, some 15 feet from the Queen-sized Murphy bed I sleep in.
This is one of the reasons I love being a software tester. After a bit of networking during my first day at Stareast, I found myself invited to dinner with the Stareast Rebel Alliance, a group of testers who are becoming active in the speaker circuit, blogosphere, and Twitter, attempting to improve the craft of testing. They answered testing questions, gave me an Alliance t-shirt, tried to buy me dinner, and made me feel like family. Special thanks to Alex Kell for introducing me to this crowd.
When Matthew Heusser mentioned he needed a place to host a tester gathering the following night, I suggested my hotel room. After all, the Rosen Shingle Creek had overbooked and given me the parlor suite (maximum occupancy 78). True to their plan, this ambitious group of testers met after the conference and gave lightning talks, provided support and candor, challenged each other with testing games, ate, drank, and were merry. Jon Bach and Michael Bolton were each at different tables, using dice games and puzzles to teach testers better thinking. Adam Goucher, Lanette Creamer, and Matthew Heusser practiced newish lightning talks on tester roles. Shmuel Gershon demonstrated a new session based testing tool he is writing (to be less disruptive to the tester’s concentration). Justin Hunter gracefully demoed his Hexawise test case generation tool. Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, co-authors of Agile Testing were there asking questions and providing support. Tim Riley happily discussed various Mozilla testing processes. Agile testing experts Dawn Cannan and Elizabeth Hendrickson also showed up to defend and explain their ideas.
There were many other testers who came and went that night, all were polite, interesting, modest, and fun to hang out with. The last of them left around 2:30 AM some time after winding down and watching a few choice TED talks. I went to sleep with the thick smell of carry-out Indian Food next to my bed.
The next day I woke up and walked barefoot across my 78 occupancy room. I stepped on something. About 5 hours earlier, Michael Bolton was shoving Smartfood popcorn into his mouth and spilling it on the floor. He picked some up saying, “I wouldn’t want you to get Smartfood Foot tomorrow”. I guess he missed a piece.
Lanette Creamer has an excellent overview of the conference on her testyredhead blog. I'll list my personal take-aways in future posts.