Categories
mental health

Mental Health reflection

I last did a mental health check in at the mid June and this blog post is a reflection of where I’m at today.

If you need to talk to someone about mental health there are plenty of services out there. Here is a list of them.

Sleep is better

I got my bloods done, there’s no issues from a nutrient point of view that was causing the low mood. I’ve been taking some melatonin to help get my sleep back to a regular cycle and it seems to be helping.

So fucking bored

I think the monotony of working from home is starting to set in. I really miss interacting with people. I get most of my motivation for work from interacting with people. Interacting with people purely online isn’t quite giving me the energy I need. This last week I’ve just felt so fucking bored. I haven’t had any motivation for work. I don’t know where this feeling is coming from either.

And I can’t focus

It’s not like I have a lack of things I can do. I have tons of ideas and improvements. Things that could help my team, the next video series on public speaking and I’ve started a new part time course so there’s tons of new things to learn. But really struggling with the focus.

I don’t know if time off will help

If I took a week off, all I would do is sit around home studying/growing my side business. I wouldn’t actually switch off and relax. I never switch off from work and life, it’s one of those things that was impacting my sleep before hand. There will be a week off from study in October with the term break. Maybe I’ll take some time off then.

I’m searching for meaning

Life can be so goddam random and meaningless sometimes. As humans we are really good at finding meaning in the chaos of life. Why am I even bothering with trying to find meaning and satisfaction? Anyway I feel a bit weird here and I think the whole pandemic situation might be contributing.

Counselling services

I should try some things to help me re-centre and calm a my mind. Maybe get back into meditation, or try some magic or just talk to someone.

Anyway, how are you looking after yourself during these challenging times?

Categories
Critical Thinking Marketing Mobile Testing Software Testing

That elusive Test Strategy

I recently was asked about recommendations for learning about test strategies. Here are my sample strategies:

a strategy doesn’t have to be a big giant document. It starts as an idea in your head and you have to get other people on board as part of that strategy. So you need to share some knowledge in some format to help share your idea. This blog is about how I’d go about developing a new test strategy in a new team.

History of the term

First let’s take some time to understand this term; strategy. Historically the word strategy is associated with war and battle:

Quote: Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without Strategy is the noise before the defeat - Sun Tzu
https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/287878601154737781/

Strategy is to help you win or achieve some goal. Many people talk about their tactics when they are thinking of their strategy. Tactics are your how. They aren’t your whole strategy.

A tactic is a conceptual action or short series of actions with the aim of achieving of a short-term goal. This action can be implemented as one or more specific tasks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactic_(method)

Book: I have a strategy (No you don’t)

This book helped me understand the term, “Strategy” in a visual and fun way.

https://www.amazon.com.au/Have-Strategy-You-Dont-Illustrated/dp/1118484207

According to this book a strategy has 4 parts:

  • A purpose
  • A distinct, measurable goal
  • A plan
  • A sequence of actions or tactics

Start with a purpose

If I was dumped into a new team tomorrow and asked to develop a test strategy, I’d start by interviewing/surveying a few people. Depending on the size of the team and who I was working with it could be an online survey or a casual chat over a coffee. I’d ask something along the following lines:

  • What does quality mean to you?
  • What are common problems in the testing process here?
  • If you could fix just one thing about our quality, what would it be?

Now different people are going to answer this differently. Developers might say test code coverage, easily maintainable code and easy deployments make a high quality product. Your project manager might say happy customers. Testers might say less bugs found in the test phase.

Develop a goal

Once I’ve surveyed enough people (5 people is a good enough number for most user research interviews), I’ll work on constructing a goal. it might be;

  • improve our continuous integration build times
  • increase our test coverage
  • reduce the amount of negative customer feedback

Make sure it is measurable. You could use SMART or OKR goal formats.

https://www.toolshero.com/personal-development/smart-goals/
https://blog.weekdone.com/introduction-okr-objectives-key-results/

Develop a plan

Now what are some things I or the team could do to achieve our goals? We could create tasks during our sprint to help us work towards our goal. Once you’ve achieved something you survey those original interviewers to see if the perceived quality has actually improved.

Measure your progress

Measure the improvements in quality of your product. For my team we are tracking the average app store ratings, crash rates and engagement with in app features to see if they are actually useful. https://bughuntersam.com/metrics-and-quality/

Risks and Gaps

A Test Strategy could also have a section about risks or gaps in this approach. For example things like performance testing and security testing might not be included. Having a brief explainer why these aren’t part of your strategy can be useful for explaining the context and scope.

UI Automation Visual Risk Framework

if you are working on improving the UI Test automation coverage you can use this visual risk based framework to help focus on where to start and what to automate first and measure progress against it as part of your strategy.

https://bughuntersam.com/visual-risk-ui-automation-framework/

Conclusion

I’m more comfortable with the term marketing strategy over test strategy because it’s easier to measure your impact and easier to come up with concrete goals. Software testing isn’t as tangible as many other parts of the business process and can be hard to measure.

Can your strategy be summarised by this comic:

test all the things
automate all/some things

What resources have helped you understand test strategies? I’d love to check them out.

Categories
Job hunting mental health Software Testing Technology Weight Loss

Discrimination in the Workplace

There are many forms of discrimination you could face when you are looking for work or in the workplace. Whether it’s based on;

  • Gender
  • Appearance
  • Family
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Age

Many of these forms of discrimination are illegal in many countries. Hiring Managers/Recruiters who work in Human Resources departments (HR) know how to protect their companies from potential lawsuits, so they won’t be directly discriminatory to your face. However you still might face indirect discrimination.

This blog post is a deep dive into the the subtleties of discrimination so you can be more aware of it during the job hunting process. Topics covered include:

  • Women in Tech
  • Fatness and Bias
  • Mental Health
  • Local Experience

Women in Tech

Women still face discrimination in the tech industry. Trans folk even more so. I read a story about a female to male transition for a tech support worker. When he transitioned he visited an old client to help fix a computer. The client thought it was a new person and complained about how the women who use to help fix their computer didn’t know anything about tech. It was the exact same person.

Here’s another story about how a Husband came to understand the discrimination his Wife and Business Partner faces on a daily basis.

In my early career I avoided using my full name (Samantha Connelly) on my CV because of the gender association. If you look at my old 2014 CV, I have S. Connelly as my name.

Now that I have a reputation in the industry, I can’t hide my gender. I’m a little gender queer in my representation and could easily go by Sam (he/him) but I don’t suffer from gender dysphoria and don’t have a strong desire to change. I will remain female because I’m comfortable in my own skin (CIS). Also men’s fashion isn’t as fun as women’s fashion.

Fatness and Bias

I use to be 127kg (that’s 280 pounds for my US readers and 20 stone for my UK readers). I’m now around 83kg, at 160cm tall this still puts me in the Obese category. I had always grown up being the fat kid. I had weight loss surgery (gastric sleeve) in 2016.

People tend to think fat people are lazy and unmotivated. Back when I was fatter and saw someone else who was even larger, I use to thing, “well at least I’m not that fat”, but I’ve seen my mindset change first hand. I now have the same knee jerk, “ew, gross” reaction as everyone else.

Fatness itself is generally not cause for legal discrimination (unless it’s classified as a disability), however overweight people are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions because they are seen as less competent.

When was the last time you saw a fat leader in a tech company? That weight loss surgery has probably already paid for itself based on my increased in potential earning capacity and more leadership opportunities.

Mental Health

This time last year, I thought I was going to move to Newcastle to join a start up in a head of engineering role. After the offer had been made, someone on the board did “further research” into my history, and getting fired from Campaign Monitor came up.

They thought I had been fired because of my history of mental health impacting my performance. At the time I was recovering from a broken ankle and I had presented to the whole company about my struggles with depression.

However, the reason why I was let go was a mismatch of skills and expectations. It was an experimental Quality Coach role, through hiring me they discovered they actually wanted someone to help grow the test automation framework for the C# backend. This wasn’t my strength and we broke up on good terms.

I even presented at a conference of how I tried a quality coach role and failed at it. I put together this presentation with the help of my old boss from Campaign Monitor. I was super excited for this role back at the end of 2017.

Local Experience

Through my career coaching sessions and leading Sydney Testers over the last 4 years, I’ve spoken to many people who are looking for their first job here in Australia. They often get rejected for not having any “local experience”. I view this as a form of discrimination. It’s an excuse to not consider you as a candidate.

I can’t blame hiring managers for taking this mental shortcut. When you are dealing with 100’s of applicants and you want to get the list down to 4 to interview, you take many shortcuts to get there.

It does mean people often struggle to land that first job here. I’ve told people to invest in their online profile and networking to overcome this barrier.

Summary

I have no idea how other people over come other forms of discrimination (like agism and racism). But this blog is full of stories of things I’ve tried or heard that can help people put their best foot forward during the job hunting process.

If you’re an older disabled fat black mother working in tech good luck out there because society isn’t on your side.

What’s worked for you? Or did something backfire?

Categories
Craft Beer Critical Thinking Finances Job hunting Marketing mental health mindfulness Software Testing Technology

Buddha in Testing: Chapter 5

At the end of Buddha in Testing, Pradeep asks the reader to co-author the next chapter with him. So this blog post is my attempt at writing part of Chapter 5 of this book:

What is the chaos that surrounds you in testing?

Write now, during the pandemic a lot of people have been made redundant and are struggling to find work. I’m lucky enough that my day job isn’t all that chaotic, which is a good thing. The mobile app I’m working on is doing pretty well. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with a stressful work load on top of everything else.

What is my contribution?

I put together a software testers career cheatsheet to help anyone whose struggling to find work right now. After having career coaching sessions with a bunch of people, a few themes came to light. I got the inspiration to do a video series on those points. I found out it makes for great marketing content.

What situations have put you out of calmness?

Last weekend I recorded 7 career tip videos in one weekend. I was burnt out by Monday and a blubbery, teary mess. I couldn’t focus on work and took the day off to mentally recharge. I told twitter I was out of spoons.

How did you bring peace?

Walking around the city, listening to podcasts and shopping in second hand clothes stores was how I recharged. I even had a beer in a sports bar at lunch and watched some cricket (England vs West Indies) :

What answers are you searching for?

Satisfaction in life. I’m over software testing. I’m starting a graduate diploma in financial advice next week because I have an idea to disrupt the retirement funds industry here in Australia. Making retirement funds easier is something I can get behind.

How will you recognise the peace?

I enjoy adding value to other people. It’s a huge driver to most of what I do. I miss the constant interaction with people from my shop assistant days. If money/labour wasn’t a drawback I’d prefer to work in a supermarket over most of the testing roles I’ve had. With my history of depression, I don’t think I’d ever achieve peace but I can be more content with life.

I’m now outta steam

I could continue answering the questions but I think I’m going to leave it there. How would you answer some of these questions?

Categories
Marketing Technology

Marketing; measuring your impact

In a previous marketing blog post; I talk about how eyeballs/views are king. This blog post is a follow up and is a deep dive into how you can measure your impact. Using real life examples from my own marketing adventures.

WordPress + Jetpack Analytics

I published a blog post full of Software Testing career tips on the 25th of June. Here’s the JetPack Analytics (a free wordPress plugin) of how many views I’ve had of that blog post since it was published:

This blog post has been viewed 1,321 times since it was published 1 month ago.

Video + LinkedIn

After chatting to people via my career coaching sessions, a few themes kept coming up. I decided to turn these themes into a video series and I’ve been posting daily video career tips to LinkedIn.

Yesterday I publish part 10 and in one day it has been viewed over 2,500 times with 134 reactions, 16 shares and 10 comments. Here’s some of the insights LinkedIn Analytics provides:

I can also see the companies, roles and locations of the people who viewed my post. 673 were Software Testers, 243 were from Sydney and India is my second biggest audience.

Since I’ve started posting daily videos, the numbers of people who have viewed my profile has also increased, I’m now getting around 240 views a day:

Youtube + Analytics

I’ve also posted all of those videos on Youtube. Now they aren’t receiving as many views compared to LinkedIn but Youtube is a longer game.

My Interview with Manoj Kumar from my last marketing blog post has been viewed 342 times:

Apparently it has a 10% click through rate
Most people don’t watch all the way through, 91.5% of people watch less than 5 minutes, infact only a tiny percent finish the video
I got 7 new subscribers from that video
You can also see Audience metrics like Age and Location. I don’t trust this 100% male viewers number though…

How do you measure up?

What else are you tracking as part of your marketing adventures? I’ve found video + blog + regular posts to LinkedIn has increased my overall engagement.

Categories
mental health Paganism Spirituality

Why Paganism appeals to me

I don’t often write about spiritual or religious ideas on this blog but I was recently listening a 99 percent invisible podcast on Yokai (Japanese Folk Lore Spirits):

And the idea of personification of spirits resonates with me. This blog post is a reflection on my spiritual beliefs.

What is Paganism

Paganism is a Christian made up word to mean non Christian, or a non believer of the Christian God/religion. It was used during the Roman Catholic expansion through Europe to describe many of the other spiritual beliefs they encountered. Witches and Wiccans are a small part of the broad Pagan label. The witch hunts weren’t a pleasant time of history.

Many Christian holidays are based on pagan traditions. Easter is a spring time fertility celebration and Yule (aka Christmas) is a feast during the dead of winter to help ward off things like disease and famine.

Paganism is an un organised religion. There’s not a big building that all Pagans congregate at like a church or sinigogue. It’s also a very flexible religion where you can shape it to your own beleif system.

Game of Thrones uses a lot of pagan rituals. Robb Stark and Talisa get married and there’s a handfasting ceremony where their hands are tied with cloth. Bran goes back in time and witnesses this handfasting wedding:

Bran Azor Ahai The Dragon Has 3 Heads Rhaegar Prophesy
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2017/09/170646/bran-prince-who-was-promised-prophecy-finale

If God has a gender

One of the things that irked me the most about Christianity is the fatherisation of God. God is a He, Him, the Ultimate Father. Where as when I think of the magic of how life is created, the female form is generally more involved (sea horses being the exception).

If I was to give God a gender, I like to think of it as a motherly figure. God is beyond gender but many pagan traditions associate the goddess of creation with the moon. Mother nature in a way. May the goddess protect you on your journey. And all that jazz.

Anthroporfism of spirits

One of the benefits of the Yokai is the personification of things that go bump in the night. Heard a spooky noise at night? It’s a mischievous little monster. When you personify something it becomes easier to deal with.

One of the benefits of Christianity is the externalisation of life’s randomness. You don’t get as stressed about life when you can tell yourself it’s all part of God’s plan and everything happens for a reason. I prefer to think of many spirits causing these problems, not just one or two apposing forces (i.e. God vs the Devil).

Druidry

Druidry resonates with me, having the ultimate respect for nature. Why not believe there’s a wise old spirit in the big old tree that you could seek guidance from. It also means I can bring in elements of the aboriginal dream time because living in Australia there are elements of respect to country.

Anyway, if you are interested in connecting with Druids Down Under, there’s this facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Druids-Down-Under-160405097356025/

And there is this book on Australian Druidry that I read at the beginning of the year:

Magic is preyer

When a pagan practices a magic ritual, either solo or in a group, it’s all about putting positive energy into the cosmos. Much like how a Christian might make a preyer before going to bed, the act of putting positive energy out there is a great comfort.

It’s the same sensation when joining in a group song at a sermon. When you put enough faith into it, you can feel a part of something that’s bigger than you. It’s a really up lifting experience.

Practicing magic

At the start of the year I gave myself the goal of doing 4 magic ceremonies and I haven’t done one yet. I should do a basic initiation ceremony, I would welcome the goddess of creation into my life and ask her to keep me safe and to watch over some of the people that I care about. I might even create an Amabi Yokai character to represent the water part of the magic circle.

Wiccan magic circles

A wiccan magic circle is often part of a ceremony, you can orient the circle with the 4 cardinal directions (North, East, South and West). Each direction can represent an element or a spirit. You evoke a spirit to help protect your magic circle before you start the ceremony.

For a basic enchantment they could be earth, air, fire, and water. However in the southern hemisphere we may swap things around and if you have a big ocean to the east of you might use that direction for water. You might use a candle for air or fire, a plant for earth, a feather for air. Something that has meaning to you and helps you focus.

Practice time

I’ll put some of these ideas into practice and do an initialising magic ritual one night and I’ll let you know how I go.

What’s involved with your spiritual/religious practices?

Categories
Critical Thinking Job hunting Marketing Software Testing Technology

Technical tips for Software Testers

My software testing career tips series on Youtube is going well. So well in fact that I need to break out and collect the 4 part mini series on technical skills into it’s own blog post here.

Part 1: learn command line

Nothing will impress you colleagues more than your technical prowess with the command line, even if all your doing is checking your email. Here’s all of the references in the video:

You should focus on learning tools and technology that help you collaborate with the developers on your team. Here’s all of the references in the video:

Part 3: The Technical profile

Having a GitHub profile is key to establishing your tech credibility. Here’s all of the references in the video:

Part 4: Manual vs Automation

I avoid these terms in my profile like the plague and as an Industry we should drop these terms. Here’s all of the references in the video:

What are your tips for testers when it comes to improving their technical skills?