Categories
Marketing Meetup Software Testing

Orders of Communication

Have you ever wanted to ask a large group of people their thoughts on a particular topic? Maybe you want to know what the 2000+ members of the Sydney Testers meetup group want to get out of the group? Was your first thought to create a poll or send out a survey? I bet you that channel didn’t work out so well for you because I tried it.

Here is my list of orders of communication to help you get the results you need when trying to get data to help influence your decisions.

Face to Face

Nothing beats face to face communication. The only draw back with this method is it’s hard to scale to reach a mass market. However the best way to get lots of feedback in a face to face style would be to collect opinions at a physical event. The low-tech solution here would be to hand out a paper survey at a meetup event and collect the results as people leave. BOOM, 30-120 responses based on attendance and it’s all useful data that’s not from some random scrub off the internet. There’s a little bit of manual data entry at the end but the results justify the return on investment.

You see this method play out at conferences for lead generation. A company will have a stall displaying their products and services. They might tempt people in with a competition or survey. “Give us your email for your chance to win” type of deal. This is leveraging face to face communication.

Do you want to settle a deal or convince your boss to give you a raise? Have a face to face meeting in a cosy cafe. It helps build up that environment of trust.

Video or Phone call

If you can’t meet someone in person, arranging a phone call or video chat should be your next point of call. As a millennial I’ve had a mild social phobia of talking on the phone that I’ve had to overcome. I highly recommend getting comfortable with getting on the phone. It will really help with collaborating with any task. As our workforce gets more global this will become more of the way we get work done.

Direct Message

I created this survey for gathering feedback from Sydney testers members last year. However I’ve only received 41 responses so far. I’ve done some pretty thorough marketing for this survey and the results just don’t justify the effort. I did:

  • Sent an email through the MeetUp app asking for feedback
  • Created a discussion on meetup asking for feedback
  • Asked every tester in Sydney who’s a level 1 connection on my LinkedIn to provide feedback via personal direct messages
  • Asked the committee to share the survey
  • Ask every new Tester who I connect with on LinkedIn to provide feedback

The feedback has been really useful but it’s been a lot of work. Work that I’m not getting paid to do either. So I don’t see it as a useful use of my time.

Social Media

Social Media is the ultimate spray and prey method. You put stuff on the internet hoping for people to stumble upon it and react to it. Posting just once hardly is effective. You need to be consistent with this and constantly posting. This is also a lot of work.

For example we’ve had this poll on our Sydney Testers meetup page since 2014, yet we only have 20 responses.

Most of the results so far are around job opportunities, networking, learning tech skills and remaining relevant in my career. If you run a tech meetup, your members probably want very similar things.

Conclusion

I prefer face to face communication above all others. I think meetup sucks as a platform for trying to engage people outside of the “turn up to this event” type of engagement. Do you dis-agree with what I’ve put here? How so?

Categories
Marketing

Lessons in Sales: Naked Wines

Naked wines is a new wine distributor in the Australian Market. Some of their sales are a little sneaky but I personally don’t mind. This is a story of how I’ve excused their sneakiness and bought more product.

It started with a survey

We all love a survey, especially if it’s a personality test. I first found out about Naked Wines through a facebook marketing campaign which was basically, “Become a wine genius in 52 seconds” quiz. I found it an interesting approach. I’ve seen Naked be promoted on socials a bit since then and seems they’ve grown quiet rapidly.

Then there was a voucher

In my email one day I found a $50 voucher for naked wines and they selling a starter box for $99. This was the temptation I needed to try their product. Trying a dozen wines for $49 is not a big stretch for me, a non wine drinker who prefers my craft beer. However when I made this purchase they automatically signed me up to the “Angels” program. It’s like angel investors but it’s a wine subscription. You pay $40 per month, it can be banked up and used whenever you like. I guess it was part of the T&C’s I agreed to without reading. #MyBad.

Joining the Angels

When I got my first delivery, I got some information about the angels program. It looked like I was like the 14 thousandth person on the queue and I thought it would take forever so I didn’t care too much about it. However one month later I’m now an angel. I feel like the queue is artificially created to be large to drive up excitement for it or something. However out of my first $40 subscription payment, Naked matched my $40 contribution. This definitely helped grease my wheels. I ended up purchasing more wine and I’ve only drank half a bottle from the first order. Gah I have so much wine now. Good thing I can disperse it through the events I run for Sydney Testers.

Angels = good cash flow

The angels program is a really clever sales tactic. It means the business has a guaranteed cash flow every month and they don’t have to worry so much about people not coming back to the platform. They’ve now signed up to coming back. When I did a back of the envelope calculation based on the email they sent me when I joined the Angels, they had nearly $4 million per month in guaranteed cash flow. That would really help make warehouse management easier.

More transperancy

I would have liked to have seen a bit more obviousness that I was signing up for the angel program when I bought my first box, But other than that I think Naked helped grease the wheels enough for me to get over that grief.

P.S. I really like the printed booklet they sent with their first box. It was high quality. Also their branding is top notch. The Aussie post office seems to think they are doing a good job too.

Categories
Marketing

#100DaysOfLinkedIn Challenge

I have nearly 1400 contacts on LinkedIn, a lot of them I’ve never spoken too. So I thought I would go on a 100 days of LinkedIn challenge to see if I could add value to every one in my network who I haven’t spoken to recently. I’m calling it #100DaysOfLinkedIn. I’m already up to day 9.

Sales + Marketing = Growth

Marketing Campaign

This is fundamentally a marketing campaign. I’m not too sure what success looks like for it yet but I’m already receiving positive feedback. It is more marketing than sales as I’m attempting to gauge who are good leads on my LinkedIn. I am trying to sell Michael Bolton’s Rapid Software Testing course in Sydney and Brisbane and I’ve sent a few people towards my communication for testers workshop. However getting sales is not the point of this campaign. Adding value is and brand awareness is.

Side note: maybe a way to measure engagement is to monitor the traffic to my blog and replies to the messages?

Keeping Track

LinkedIn allows you to export your connections. I exported my connections into a spreadsheet and labelled this spreadsheet with the date of the export. I’ve added a few extra columns such as “Last Contacted” and “Notes”. Some of the notes I’ve collected so far is if the personal is a fan or a lead.

Download your data from the privacy settings menu

Have a message template

I’m reaching out with people with an a message template. However I’ll tweak this on a case by case basis and add/remove different things based on some details from their profile. Here is my basic template:


Hi {Name},

How are you? What are some of the challenges facing you these days?

I’m doing a #100DaysOfLinkedIn challenged where I try to add value to everyone in my network over 100 days. I’m up to day 9 so far.

I enjoy teaching and I’ve got a bunch of projects on the go. From encouraging people to become more technical https://samanthaconnelly.com/becoming-more-technical/ to teaching kids Lego robotics https://samanthaconnelly.com/robotics-tutorials/the-mexican-wave-project/

I’ve been experimenting with different CV formats over the years, if you’d like a bit of inspiration you can check them out here: https://samanthaconnelly.com/evolution-of-my-cv/

Is there anything I can help you with?
Regards,

Sam

If they are a tester or developer in Sydney or Brisbane, I’ll include a section about Michael Bolton too.

Re posting Job ads

While I do this challenge I will re post job ads that I see that I believe will add value to testers in Australia that I know. I will also share profiles of people who have posted that they are looking and if I know they are active in the community.

Video Updates

While doing this campaign I’m experimenting with the video updates for LinkedIn. I want to see if it’s a useful tool for engagement. I’ve only done one video post so far and it’s already been positive, but I think I will do weekly updates with the progress.

Can I help you with anything?

I finish the message with a call to action, “how can I help you?”. With this campaign I’m focusing on adding value so it’s important for me to drive home this point. Overall I don’t think this approach is too “salesy” and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. A few days in and I’m already seeing positive results.

What would you change in this campaign?

Categories
mental health

Awesome stuff you’ve done this year and things you are working towards

Letter to self,

For when you are feeling low, use this list to remind yourself of how much awesome stuff you’ve done. #HumbleBrag

Events I’ve helped organise/presented at

Sydney Testers

Other events

Live Exploratory testing

Started doing live testing on twitch

Blogs I’ve published

Meetups I’ve attended

Books I’ve read

Conferences

Spoken At

Attended

  • YOW! Data
  • YOW! Lambda Jam
  • Agile Australia
  • Serverless Sydney
  • DDD Sydney
  • YOW! CTO Summit
  • YOW! Sydney

Other Awesome stuff

Will create courses for

  • Ministry of Testing
  • Mobile testing on Udemy

Completed the following courses

Started the following courses

Written a book

Work in progress

Built an App

Also a work in progress

Categories
Conferences Job hunting Software Testing Technology

Next Career move

I recently asked myself, “where would I like to take my career?”. This is a blog post on that reflection. From maintaining tech skills to improving my coaching. Here are the things that are important to me.

Keeping tech skills up to date

I’ve been doing software testing now for over 7 years and even though I come from a Computer Science and Engineering background, I’m finding people too easily put me in the box of “non technical manual tester” based on my previous roles. If I do not work hard at maintaining my tech credibility I see a risk that I will be stuck with the “non technical” label for the foreseeable future. So how am I maintaining this skill? I’m working towards the following:

  • working towards a certified ethical hacker
  • Building a mobile app as a side project
  • Attending developer focused conferences

Certified Ethical Hacker

I’m working through Troy Hunt’s and Dale Meredith’s, certified ethical hacking course on Pluralsight. I find security testing more interesting than automation testing and there’s a huge demand for technical cyber security skills. The course is hard to do, there’s 80 hours worth of lecture material and it requires a commitment to regular learning to maintain it.

Wearable app side project

I’ve already spoken at conferences about my example poo tracking wearable app to talk about ideas like privacy by design. I haven’t even built the app yet and I’m using it to teach people. I’m interested in teaching myself mobile app development and how to build basic API’s. I even have someone who’s offered to help build this. Eventually I’d like to use this app to help teach people about different elements of testing.

Attending developer conferences

I’ve always enjoyed attending dev focused conferences. I always learn more compared to software testing focused conferences because it is out of my domain of expertise. I will continue to prioritise these conferences over software testing conferences this year.

Any new role that I start has to help me with maintaining my tech skills first and foremost. This is number one priority I will look at when assessing new roles.

Improve my Teaching/Coaching

I have always loved teaching. I was the kid in school that all my friends asked for help with maths questions. I’ve been tutoring my peers for as long as I remember. I’ve had my tutoring side business for almost as long as I’ve been testing. If teaching wasn’t see as a bit of a dead end low respected job, I would have studied it at uni. I do this stuff for free, that’s how much I love doing this. Being a Quality Coach at Campaign Monitor showed me that there is demand for people to teach software testing skills. In a few years I’d love to be running my company where teaching technical testing skills is my focus. I’ve been running robotics workshops for kids since my uni days. Any job that allows me to practice on the company dollar is a plus in my mind.

Speaking at Conferences

I’ve spoken at 14 tech conferences in the last 3 years. I enjoy getting up on stage. Any role that encourages me to do more of this is awesome in my books. It relates to the enjoying teaching, however getting up on stage is a little different to tutoring/coaching a person one on one. There is an element of entertainment with getting up on stage. The putting on a persona and pretending to be something more that what you feel inside.

All the data

In all of my previous roles, I’ve always enjoyed doing a deep dive into data analytics. From creating dashboard for event tracking testing to helping product understand how our customers were using our apps. I enjoy it all. I’m considering doing a Masters in Statistics in a few years when I’m more on top of my finances.

A bit of job stability

I went through the motions of job hunting 3 times last year. I do not want to do this again and again. Also meeting new people is mentally draining. A bit of stability with my work environment would be awesome. Or at least some having planned turbulence. I hadn’t had much luck with full time positions last year. Maybe this year I do all contracting? I’m still considering full time though.

Have a good culture

I care deeply about having a good social connection with the team I’m working with. I need to feel like I can bring an authentic version of myself to work. That means being vulnerable enough to talk about my struggles with depression and to be comfortable bring my quirkiness to work. It comes down to psychological safety.

Reasonable salary

I’m not solely motivated by money but having a consistent budget compared to my previous role is important for my financial security. I do feel like I’m getting at the expensive end for being a software tester and I can’t even compete with off shore testers in regard to pricing.

Practising a bit of sales and marketing

I struggle with selling testing as a craft where you want skilled people doing it for you. I’m glad I’ve never had to pitch my skills to CEO’s before getting hired as a tester. Someone else has already been convinced of the value testers bring. However with shrinking test teams I think the testers that will thrive in the future will have their pitch just perfect. Any testers who knows how they add value to others and remains relevant probably won’t struggle as much as those testers who don’t. I’m practising marketing through things like my blog and running Sydney Testers. Getting up on stage is related to marketing too. I’m also going to right a book this year as a marketing exercise.

I’m not interested in

Management; this feels like a clear way to let you tech skills go rusty and it’s becoming harder for managers to promote themselves as relevant in today’s agile/self driving teams.

Having QA in my title and working in a role that is only “Automation” testing; I find a lot of companies are demanding QA automation skills but don’t seem to understand the value a skilled tester can bring to the role or company. QA often stands for quality assurance, however building automation doesn’t assure quality, it helps the engineering team deliver code with higher confidence. To me QA stands for Quality Advocate. I can’t assure quality. You will find I never call myself QA anything in all of my online profiles.

It’s rare that I find someone who can clearly articulate why they want automation in a way that drives me towards it. I’ll happily collaborate with an Engineering team to help build this however I have a tendancy to get distracted by all of the other fascinating elements of quality. Like accessibility or security.

I’d prefer to call myself a Software Engineer in Test who is focusing on helping developers own and improve their own quality processes. There shouldn’t be a difference between Software Engineers and Testers in today’s agile teams. We are all working towards building quality products.

Summary

I’ve come to believe that my next ideal role is some kind of developer advocate role. Tech will be the focus, but that blend of marketing, community engagement, technical writing and speaking at conferences is appealing to me. Ideally I’d like to have a Mobile Software Engineer in Test role to help me move towards my coaching/teaching goals and to help me keep up to date with mobile technology.

What are you looking for in your career? Do you have a career coach to help you move in the right direction?

Categories
Books Critical Thinking

Factfulness – Book Review

I finished reading Factfulness by Hans Rosling on my commute this morning. Even Bill Gates recommends giving this book a read. Hans goes over 10 biases that cause people to feel like to world is much worse than what it actually is. The book is easy to read and I like the stories of Hans questioning his own biases. There is also this 4 minute read summary of the book too.

You should watch this TED talk by Hans back in 2007:

The book is an extended version of this amazing stats talk

The 10 Dramatic Instances

Image source

Hans goes through 10 biases that cause us to over dramatise the world we live in. he kicks off the book with a questionnaire that helps highlight the incorrect world view we all hold in our heads. Alot of these instinct feed into our own internal fears and make them even louder. E.G. the fear of a rapidly changing tech scene that we can’t keep up with.

Population growth will not explode

It is already starting to even out. The upper estimate now is around 11 billion people by 2100. I really like this visualisation by Hans:

Categories
Conferences depression Meetup mental health Presenting Technology Travel

2018 – a year in review

2018 has come and gone. You know what, overall it’s been a pretty shit year for me but the goal of this blog post is to take a moment to practice gratefulness and to reflect.

The crappy bits

I started 2018 not being able to walk because I broke my ankle in December 2017 and couldn’t walk for 12 weeks. I was also starting a new job. 2018 saw me go through a relapse of depression because of broken leg blues and I went through 2 jobs. The first one wasn’t the right fit and the second one had cash flow problems. But still, these were unplanned events that made me feel like failure.

However that is enough moping about. What else did I achieve in 2018?

India

I spoke at the Selenium Conf in India in July. This was pretty cool. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you about cultural differences, it’s really worth experiencing some of these things yourself. I had never been to India before so that was exciting.

Other Conferences

I spoke at a few more in Aus (Agile Australia, and Australian Testing days), you can see all of my recorded presentations here. I also attended a few offering my sketch noting services. I enjoyed being able to attend these conferences and add some value back.

Public Transport

Getting around on wheels made me appreciate public transport here in Sydney. Sure it’s not 100% perfect, but it’s definitely better than New York. Watch Zach Anner on his quest for the rainbow bagel using the New York public transport:

Sydney Testers

The community here continues to amaze me in the quality of events we’ve done. We’ve really had a good year considering all of the ups and downs the committee has gone through. Here’s a recap of nearly 40 events done in the last year.

We’ve had international guest speakers; James Bach and Michael Bolton thanks to Catherine Karena’s training efforts. There’s been events from Security at Qantas to Mobile Automation at Woolworths. Thanks to everyone who made this an awesome year for the community.

Thanks

Thank you for being a part of my year. Here’s to making the next one even better. This one I will get to start it on the right foot (*tehehe*, pun intended). Here are some goals I’ve set myself for this year.

Categories
Meetup Software Testing Technology

Sydney Testers for 2019

Thank you to every one who’s been involved with Sydney Testers. What a year it’s been for meetup groups. In this blog I’m going to look ahead to reflect on what we could achieve for 2019 but first here’s a recap of what we’ve done for Sydney Testers in 2018;

  • 13 meetup events
  • 7 dice game sessions
  • 5 social events
  • 4 testing in the pub discussion groups
  • 4 CV clinic sessions
  • 2 Lean Coffees
  • 2 Cross promotional events
  • 1 Webinar
  • 1 Workshop

1 main meetup each month

We will continue to aim for 1 big meetup event a month. I’m going to experiment with more discussion groups and more 3 x 20 minute talks per 1 meetup to help keep things fresh. Do you have a 20 minute talk proposal? Submit your proposal here.

Getting more people involved

I’d love to see things like the discussion groups, dice game sessions and lean coffees run in other parts of Sydney. These event don’t take much to organise and don’t require a budget because they are often “pay your own way”. I can mentor anyone in how to run these events too. I’d love to see some of these events in Parramatta, Macquarie and North Sydney. You don’t need to run these events every month. Once every 2-3 months would be fine. If you are interested, reach out to me via sam@thebughunter.com.au .

Money

See this blog about Sydney Testers and money, we hope to raise more funds for events and to continue paying for incidentals (like meetup fees). Feel like sponsoring or hosting an event? Please reach out to me.

Leadership

At some point I will naturally step down from leading Sydney Testers. I might do this in 2020. Do you want to help out? I can help mentor anyone in how to run events for Sydney Testers if you are interested. We may even have an election at the end of 2019 to elect new members?

Feedback

Please fill in this survey if you’d like to help drive the future of Sydney Testers. We really appreciate any feedback you may have.

Categories
Breweries Craft Beer Road Tripping Travel

Trip to Tassie

Ahh Tasmania, my home state. I grew up in the Hobart region. I moved to Sydney 5 years ago but I make sure to get back to the state on a regular basis. This time I took my partner for their first trip to Tassie. We were mostly visiting family for Christmas but we managed to sneak in a bit of a road trip and this blog is a reflection on that.

Sunday the 23rd

We arrived late Saturday evening so our roadtriping starts on the Sunday. My parents live in Dodges Ferry, it’s a beautiful beach town about 20 minutes drive from the airport.


View of Mount Wellington from Dodges Ferry Beach

We start our morning heading out to Cambridge park to buy an auxiliary cable for my parents car and to buy a warm jacket as my partner had forgotten to pack one and the night we landed was a little fresh. We were thinking of making our way down to Port Arthur but we ended up making a detour to Richmond instead.

Richmond

Richmond is home to the oldest still standing bridge in Australia. It’s a small historic town with an old school lolly shop and is pleasant to walk around. The drive to Richmond is through the coal valley wine region, so if you like wine it’s also a nice place to check out.

Richmond Lolly shop

Mount Wellington

We then went for a drive into Hobart to get some bbq supplies for Christmas. I wanted to try and do a Brisket for Christmas as my dad had recently gotten himself a coal BBQ. After the bbq trip we drove up to Mount Wellington to check out the view.

On the way down from the Mountain we ducked into the historic Cascade brewery for a beer. Unfortunately we found out after the beer that we couldn’t go on the next tour because we’d had something to drink.

That evening we stay at my sister’s place to hang out with her and her fur babies. We also spend the evening playing Sushi go Party; a fun party game where the goal is to build the tastiest meal.

Monday the 24th

We checked out the Huon Valley this day. It started with a trip to the Margate train; there’s a delightful candy store in one of the carriages there. There was also an antique store which we walked through.

We then went to my Grand father’s for a BBQ lunch. He lives in Kingston. We got chatting about motorbikes and had a seat on his.

Then we drove out through Huonville. We stopped off at Willie’s cider shed and picked up some fresh cherries from the green shed. There are tons of little cideries in the Huon Valley. It is the origin of the Apple Isle after all.

We then made our way out to the Tahune Airwalk. We had a go on the flying fox over the river and went up to the cantilever for a walk.

On the way back we drove the scenic route through Cygnet, Verona Sands and Woodbridge. There’s a very fancy fine dining restaurant in Woodbridge called Peppermint Bay Hotel. You can get a cruise from Hobart out there too.

On the way back we stopped for Fish and Chips at Flippers in the Hobart Wharf. We wanted to go check out Hastings Caves and thermal hot springs on this day too but didn’t have time to squeeze it in ☹️.

Brisket for Christmas

I tested out my Dad’s coal BBQ for Christmas. On Christmas Eve I started the smoke for it. After 1.5 hours on the bbq the brisket was way too hot. It was going to be a charcoal brick the next day if I didn’t do something about it. Dad’s bbq had too much airflow coming through it for me to get a nice slow & low heat for smoking. I ended up taking the brisket off the BBQ, wrapping it in aluminium foil with a big chunk of butter and placing it in the slow cooker overnight in a small bath of water. The Brisket was saved. Was it a #ChristmasMiracle?

Wednesday the 26th

Now that Christmas was done and dusted we could start the big part of our roadtrip. Tuesday involved driving up to Frecinet National Park and checking out the Wine Glass bay walk. There was a surprising number of people here attempting to take selfies.

We then made the rest of the way to the Bay of fires. On the way we ducked into the IronHouse Brewery to pick up a beer for the evening. We stayed in a little farmstead Airbnb right in the Bays of Fire.


Another deserted beach, this time in the bay of fires.

Thursday the 27th

This day started with the amazing east coast drive to Launceston through places like Scottsdale and Derby. The driving through this part of Tassie is just awesome (especially if you like windy roads that snake their way up and down mountain sides).

When we got to Launceston we checked out Penny Royal; a historic site with cliff side adventures, Boags Brewery, the Cataract Gorge and we were pleasantly surprised with the craft beer selection at Saint John’s craft beer bar for dinner. We stayed in a beautiful tiny house with a loft bed inside some public gardens. It was pretty cool but my partner hit their head on the roof a few times getting in and out of the loft bed.

Friday the 28th

Before heading back to Hobart, we made a visit out to Langdale Farm for a quick tour. I wanted to meet Fiona Stocker who’s recently written a book on the slow life living on a Farm in Launceston. We received a tour of the farm, geeked over smoker BBQ’s and exchanged some home brew beer for hand made bacon. You can even stay here through their Airbnb if you like.

Ross Bakery

On a way down to Hobart, we checked out a vineyard in the Tamar Valley to get a present for my Partner’s parents and ducked into the Ross village Bakery for lunch. Did you know the Ross bakery is rumoured to be the inspiration for the bakery in Kiki’s delivery service (a studio Ghibli animation). FAIR WARNING; This place gets very busy, especially if a tourist bus has just stopped off near by.

Craft beer in Hobart

Thursday evening saw us enjoying our fair share of craft beer in the Hobart area. We started with a schooner in a bus at preachers;

Having a wander through the taste of Tasmania, checking out T-Bone and Shambles breweries in North Hobart before enjoying a burger and craft beer at Jack Greene. It’s nice to see craft beer take off here too.

Saturday the 29th

We started this day by having a quick stroll through the Salamanca Markets then getting the ferry out to the Mona museum. We enjoyed a fine selection of moo brew beer and a nice lunch in the new restaurant extension.

Truck sculpture outside the Mona museum

We finished the day by playing some board games in the New Sydney Hotel. One of my old favourite locals before craft beer was everywhere.

What’s next?

That concludes our trip to Tassie this time. There still were a few things we missed. We didn’t do any of the west coast (Cradle Mountain) and we skipped on Bruny Island. So there’s plenty more to come back to.