Ministry of Testing Meetups in Cambridge 2017

Tis the season! Let’s have a look back at another year of excellent evening events at the Ministry of Testing Meetup in Cambridge. I’m really pleased that we again managed to have events happening pretty regularly each month – a very warm shout out to all our speakers, hosts and sponsors who helped me make this possible.

The evening events in Cambridge are held monthly and we aim to be quite flexible about them – we rotate between weekdays Monday to Thursday in the first half of the month, which gives a good contrast to the Lean Coffee mornings which also take place monthly, but are kept regular on the last Wednesday. We continue to have a variety of formats during the evening events – we have speakers as well as interactive hands-on sessions, workshops or Show and Tells.

In 2017 we saw an increase in attendee numbers, with a nice mix of regulars, people who had been coming off and on through the last years, people who’ve just started to come, but kept showing up, as well as people who were there for the first time. Having a dedicated Meetup Group, rather then being part of the original London based group certainly made it easier to be found as a local Cambridge Group dedicated to all things testing.

Let me give you a short wrap up of the evening Meetups we held this year:

January: Show And Tell (what you can’t do without)

We started with a relaxed evening in the Old Spring, discussing what we can’t do without as testers. The things mentioned ranged from visual modelling to testability to people to workarounds to games and many more. As a special guest we were joined by Michael Bolton, who was in town running a RST course for the testers at DisplayLink. Read more about the evening in a couple blog posts by an attendee:

March: Testing Puzzles

This was an interactive hands-on session. I’ve set up a couple puzzles and exercises to solve, some to tackle in small groups (How can you find a needle in a haystack? How do you test a light switch?) and some on your own (Fill in an animal wordsearch). It was great to see all the testers and developers tackle the tasks with a lot of enthusiasm and share in the debrief after each exercise things learned and strategies applied. Use the puzzles and the format for Meetups, in job interviews or as a group exercise. You can find my descriptions on this blog:

April: TestSphere

Beren Van Daele and Ministry of Testing released Test Sphere this year, a card game specifically designed for testers to get us talking, thinking & learning about our experiences. It contains hundred cards with topics from five dimensions: Heuristics, Techniques, Feelings, Quality Aspects, Patterns – perfect for knowledge sharing, storytelling, and in order to introduce and combine testing concepts. We’ve met to give it a try and ended up using it in a Lean Coffee style approach. Find out more about TestSphere here:

May: “Test Automation Issues” with James Coombes

At our first talk of the year, we had James Coombes sharing experiences from throughout his automated test career. He talked about issues he’d seen which have gotten in the way of an ideal automated test facility that always answers the question of does my product work or not. He covered the mistakes he had seen (which are surprisingly common across a variety of companies) and where people go wrong in the quest for this test panacea. This was a great topic, with a great turnout, hitting 25 people.

June: St Neots – Testing Games & Socializing

At TestBash Brighton, on Twitter and via the Ministry of Testing #Cambridgeshire Slack Channel I’ve stumbled across a handful of testers from the nearby St Neots and we thought it might be nice to get outside of Cambridge for once and meet up there. It ended up being one of my favourite Meetups – not only did I got to finally meet some people from Twitter and Slack in person, but also got to reconnect with TestBash friends. Testers in St Neots connected, a few people from Cambridge came down with me and we also had a few first timers who wanted to come to a Meetup for a long time, but were hold up by Cambridge being slightly too out of their way. Bringing Testers together? Mission accomplished on a great evening socialising and engaging in Testing Games! And the community is growing – a Tester Meetup in the nearby Peterborough is kicking off 2018!

July: Evening Lean Coffee

A relaxed evening in a Pub in Cambridge, discussing testing related topics in a Lean Coffee format. I like this format as you get to benefit form everybody’s thoughts, experience and opinions from a variety of topics. To me often a great inspiration and very motivational.

August: “Testing Demystified” with Karo Stoltzenburg

The August Meetup saw me doing a preview of my talk on Testing that I presented at the “Developer! Developer! Developer! East Anglia” event later that year, as a part of the Developer Days events series for the UK .NET Community. I talked about myth and misconceptions on testing, the testing mindset, and presented a walk through on some testing essentials: assessing risk, using oracles and heuristics for test ideas and executing tests using exploratory charters. The talk was very well received and gave me a great opportunity to practise and gather some very valuable feedback.

September: “Continuous Quality: Moving Beyond Bug Reports” with Neil Studd

As a preview of his TestBash Philadelphia talk, Neil Studd talked to us about his journey, reflections and learnings on bug reporting, including a Q&A session at the end. Excellent evening where Neil shared with us why bug reporting matters (but why the method for reporting might not), introduced us to ideas for quickly surfacing valuable information about problems, and talked to us of new methods for approaching the day-to-day challenges in the workplace. Find the TestBash talk on the Dojo (Pro accounts):

October: “Quality != Testing” with Anne-Marie Charrett

The lovely guys over at DisplayLink, namely Nick Pass and Neil Younger arranged for  the equally lovely Anne-Marie Charrett to come to Cambridge before heading over to TestBash Manchester, and that gave us a grand opportunity to get a preview on her keynote on quality and testing. We learned how testing fits into quality and contemporary engineering practices and about a way to have a conversation about quality at your workplace. Full house with a great talk and engaging conversations! There is a write up on evening by James Thomas and the TestBash talk on the Dojo (Pro accounts):

November: Test Sphere / Lean Coffee

Sadly, our speaker for the November Meetup had to drop out short notice, but we hope to hear about database and unit testing from Alastair Smith at another time – should be a good one! We improvised doing a Lean Coffee evening instead – which provided a worthwhile evening with great discussions nonetheless.

Dezember: Christmas Drinks

As usual, in December we’d just met to have some drinks, to talk about testing on the run-up to Christmas to socialise within the testing community. A relaxed and enjoyable evening to wrap up the Meetup year!

Awesome 2017 – many thanks!

A big shout out to all our speakers and attendees who made the events so memorable, inspirational and fun. And also a huge thanks to our hosts and sponsors, who helped us run these events: Ministry of Testing, DisplayLinkLinguamatics, Nokia, SauceLabs,  LockHouse Escape Games Cambridge !

So what’s up for 2018?

Loads! I’m really looking forward to our Meetup year in Cambridge in 2018. Software Testing Clinic is coming to Cambridge, which will be announced through the Cambridge Meetup group and hosted by Mark BunceDan Ashby and myself with monthly sessions on Testing. Yay!

The Lean Coffee mornings and the evening events will continue on, the latter on a slightly less regular schedule in 2018 with the Clinic also happening. Some great speakers and topics are lined up already though, which I’m really looking forward to! If you’re in or around Cambridge, join us on Meetup! And if you fancy giving a talk, give me a shout there or on Twitter. Especially if you want to develop a talk for a conference I can only recommend previewing your talk at Meetups – it’s a relaxed atmosphere with great people!


About Karo Stoltzenburg

Software Tester in Cambridge. Views are my own.
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