Categories
Finances mental health Sustainability Weight Loss

2020 goal setting

2019. What a year it’s been. There’s been a few ups and downs and I didn’t achieve as much as I had set out to when I did my last bout of goal setting. I didn’t write a book or release an app. I did however get a part time job with YOW! Conference, settle into a fufilling role (even though there was drama there), and spoke at 3 conferences.

One thing I realise, is I’m always trying to do too much. The theme for next years Mardi Gras is what matters. So, what matters to me? In terms of my personal well being I tend to view it accross 5 elements:

Health

Being healthy is the foundation to all elements of my well being. If I’m not looking after myself here, how can I grow in any other part of my well being? For me, this is physical health, mental health and sexual health.

Physical Health

The biggest thing I need to focus on for next year is beating the overweight category. I’ve beaten the obesity label once before but I’ve slipped back a little and I need to get on top of this. For my height, I need to be less than 65kg to beat the over weight label.

Mental Health

Next year will see me go through Schema Therapy. Here’s hoping it helps me correct an unhealthy mindset I have about myself.

Sexual Health

I’ve always been reluctant to put sexual content on my blog, hoping to keep it professional. However I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t acknowledge it wasn’t an important part of my well being. I’m getting back into the kink scene by attending a few munches. This also helps build up a sense of community. The kink community was the first community I turned to when I first moved to Sydney 6 years ago.

Community

This is one of my personal values too. This also covers family. Nearly everything I do is driven by some sense of community. Next year I’ll be focusing on more board games, the kink community and professional networking. My biggest goal here will be focusing on building and engaging an online community through twitch and podcasting.

Career

I still want to release that app and write a book, however these goals are a bit further down the priority list and I don’t mind if I don’t achieve the book next year. The app is going to help me grow as a software engineer and is more important for growing my side business.

Financial

I’m making progress here. I aim to pay off half my credit card debt by the end of the year. I’ll continue to chip away at it at least.

Spiritual

I’ve tried giving myself spirtual goals before (say establish a daily meditation habit), but that’s always felt more of a mental health thing. I think next year I’m going to explore pagan/magic/druidary by practicing atleast 4 ceremonies that align with each 3 month interval of the year. I read a book yesterday on Australian Druidary and it’s inspired me to try it next year.

Summary

So in summary; I have 5 goals that touch all 5 elements of my well being:

  1. Beat the overweight label
  2. Release a mobile app
  3. Start a podcast
  4. Pay off half of my credit card debt
  5. Practice 4 magic ceremonies

2020 should be a year of focus and vision (haha, get it?). What matters to you for the next year?

Categories
Critical Thinking Mobile Testing Software Testing

Mindmaps and Heuristics for testing

I like to use mind maps to help me test. Mind maps are a visual way of brainstorming different ideas. On a previous mobile team I printed and laminated this mind map to bring along to every planning session to help remind me to ask questions like, “What about accessibility? Automation? Security? or Performance?”:

As I go through exploratory testing (or pair testing), I’ll tick things off as I go and take session notes. Often this will involve having conversations with people, sometimes bugs are raised. 
Here is a quick mind map I’ll use for log in testing:

Heuristics for testing

This mind map approach can be combined with a heuristic test strategy approach or a nemonic test approach. Heuristics is a rule of thumb that helps you solve problems, they often have gaps because no mental model is perfect.

SFDPOT is a common nemonic that was developed by James Bach; who also developed Rapid Software Testing; a context driven methodology. James Developed his RST course with Michael Bolton

In SFDPOT each letter stands for something that is meant to help generate testing ideas, they are; Structure, Functions, Data, Platform, Operations and Time. Here’s someone’s blog on applying SFDPOT to a mobile app testing approach.
I tend to use all of these different approaches as part of my exploratory testing practices.

More resources

If you are interested in reading about exploratory testing Elisabeth Hendrickson has written this book called Explore It!, reduce risk and increase confidence with exploratory testing. Elisabeth also has this nightmare headlines game which is a fun tool for brainstorming potential error cases.

Your team could also go through the process of creating your own nemonic/mindmap to help you have consistency across different testing styles, maybe something that made sense for your context? 

You could also use mindmaps to feed into the different feedback loops you’d like to have in your team. You can read more in this mobile test strategy blog.

Categories
Conferences

YOW! Sydney 2019

YOW! Sydney 2019 has come and gone and what a conference it was. Here is my summary of the talks I attended (with sketchnotes). You can access a PDF of my sketchnotes here. Or find them all on twitter under #YOW19 and #Sketchnotes. Hopefully I’ll see you at the 2020 conference.

If you are interested in starting with sketchnotes, I have hints and tips here.

Keynotes

Day 1: Gene Kim and The Unicorn Project

Gene Kim is a well established author and consultant in the DevOps space. He’s written The Phoenix Project, The DevOps Handbook and now his third book The Unicorn Project. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series. You can see a similar talk from DevOps Days Portland on youtube here:

Day 2: Troy Hunt and we are all pwned

Troy Hunt always gives an entertaining presentation and he’s a security expert from the Gold Coast, Queensland. He runs a website called, Have I been PWNED and the answer is most definitely always yes. He’s got a similar talk from NDC Sydney here:

Other Talks

Graphs & Investigative Journalism by Michael Hunger

Quantum Computing by Matthew Keesan

Growing your own Design Heuristics by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Interaction Protocols by Martin Thompson

Level Up Quality, Security and Safety by Todd Montgomery

Frictionless Frontends by Mandy Michael

Full Stack Accessibility by Larene Le Gassick

Standards by Nicola Nye

Inventing the Future by Allen Wirfs-Brock

Technical leadership matters by Dave Thomas

How I CTO by Gil Tene

Categories
depression mental health

Schema Therapy

I had a chat to a psychologist yesterday and they recommend I try schema therapy. Schema therapy can be useful for people with split personalities or who have gone through cognitive behavioral therapy before but still find they get “stuck” in unhealthy mindsets.

The premise behind the schema is that you have a belief or a mindset, normally developed as a kid that’s actually really harmful and destructive as an adult. E.G. someone who always finds themselves in abusive relationships or self medicates through a drug addiction might have an unhealthy schema.

My schema is worthlessness

I have a fundamental belief that I’m a completely worthless heap of shit who doesn’t deserve to be here and can’t do anything right. Now that’s hard to write down and I’d never say that to anyone else but this is a constant thought in my head. When I started failing uni this thought was the only thing in my mind and I couldn’t function. I fell into a bout of chronic depression and had no energy to do anything. I escaped this thought by eating, watching tv and playing video games. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helped me to quiet this voice but it’s still there.

Triggers for my schema

I think everyone has these unhelpful thoughts going through their mind. When I’m healthy and looking after myself this voice is just background noise, just like in everyone else’s head. However if I’m tired, stressed, unwell or otherwise just a bit meh, this voice gets louder. I find during a particular time of month, I don’t sleep so well thanks to those pesky hormones. I find this voice gets a little harder to ignore around then. My dad is also a big trigger for me, I think that internal voice resonates with his voice a bit too well.

This might take 2 years

I might be doing this type of therapy for up to 2 years. This won’t be an easy exercise. I have to unlearn a fundamental belief I’ve had with me since I can remember. I can’t change this mindset overnight. Believe me, if I could change it I would have already done so.

It’ll get worse before it gets better

This morning I had a teary because the side walk was blocked, I walked pass the barrier and a worker told me to turn around. I had to back track a distance to cross the road safely and I missed the bus I needed to be on. I got upset with myself for a good half an hour and felt like a complete failure. When I was chronically depressed, that upset mood would stick around all day. I’m glad it now only lasts for half an hour but it’s still an unhealthy response to that situation. By bringing this mindset to the surface it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Just like how physio can be uncomfortable but is meant to make you stronger.

This isn’t Imposter Syndrome

I don’t generally feel like an imposter, parts of my self confidence are actually pretty healthy. I’m good at what I do and I know my career is going pretty awesomely. I don’t feel like don’t deserve my job, friends or family. Overall my life is pretty awesome, I just have this unhealthy reaction to some situations.

Speaking out and getting support

You can watch my presentation to Sydney Tech leaders on my struggles with depression on Twitch here. I’ve also tried mindfulness eating practices with a psychologist who specialized in eating disorders. I have problems with food, I wouldn’t have gotten to 127kg if I had a healthy relationship with food. If you need help, please reach out to any service. You don’t need to struggle with this alone. I’m still here even though I often feel worthless.

What unhealthy mindsets do you have? Or when was the last time you tried to unlearn something?

Categories
depression mental health

Can I just not exist right now? k thx

I’ve now been aware of a persistent low mood for around 2 months now. Here is a poem to reflect on the persistent feeling of not wanting to exist. It constantly washes over me during the day. This is not a feeling I want to act on, I know it doesn’t make any sense, overall my life is pretty awesome (except for these thoughts and a few other things) but if you feel like acting on these types of thoughts please reach out to lifeline on 13 11 14 or anyone other related service. The last time I wrote a poem about depression was in 2016.


Can I Just not exist right now, k thx.

This thought sneaks in as I stand in line at the supermarket.

How about if the world just swallowed me up, k thnx.

Then I wouldn’t have to exists with these thoughts.

Why do I not want to exist?

There’s nothing in life that should be causing this.

Can I Just not exist right now, k thnx.

As I wait for the bus I think about disappearing.

How about numbing the pain?

Beer and the internet in my pocket help me forgot myself.

Staring into the void, I still want to exist in the future

But can I just not exists right now? k thnx

Categories
depression mental health

Confronting your triggers

Trigger warning: thoughts of suicide are mentioned in this blog post.

I had a depressive episode yesterday. It lasted for about an hour, I was brought to tears and stuck in a, “I’m a failure” mental loop. I couldn’t put away my groceries or do anything else. Now this isn’t the worse episode I’ve had, actually it was pretty mild all things considering. I was left feeling exhausted after the episode but I could function; I cleaned, cooked and settled in for a movie (I watched district 9 last night, I really enjoyed it). My trigger; a text message conversation with my Dad.

Summary of the trigger

It starts with my Dad asking to borrow $3000. I say I only have $1000 in savings (if you’d like to read more about my finances, I have this blog post). Conversation flows from there and I’m left feeling like a failure because I can’t help. The last time I blogged about a trigger, I was terrified of confronting the person who caused the trigger. This time was different. This time I thought, “If I don’t say anything, it’ll never get better”.

Confronting the trigger

I actually told my Dad, “this has made me feel pretty miserable”. I then switched off my phone so I wouldn’t have to deal with his response until the morning when I knew I’d be in a better mental state. Good thing I did because my Dad basically told to grow up and get over it. Here’s a summary of that conversation:

It didn’t work out

So confronting my Dad didn’t change anything, He didn’t apologise. However I feel better for confronting this. The last time I confronted my dad over how his words made me feel miserable, I was 16 and wrote a fake suicide note after some nasty insults were thrown my way. He didn’t apologise then so why would he now? You can see the whole conversation here if you want too:

Please be supportive

If someone reaches out to with their problems, please provide an empathetic ear. This story is a case of what not to say. We don’t necessarily want solutions, sometimes we just want to vent our frustrations.

Have you ever confronted your triggers? Do you have any stories of where it worked out for you?

On a more positive note, I enjoyed watching this ted talk on why some people develop depression or anxiety. And one idea was, “are you living by values which make you feel good or are KFC values?”

Categories
depression mental health

The winter blues strike again

I’ve been feeling a little low lately, event after a board game cruise holiday to New Caledonia didn’t fix my low energy (by the way the holiday was lots of fun, here are all the boardgames we took):

So I went to my GP to get a blood test. Turns out I’m vitamin D deficient and borderline low in iron. That would explain some of the low mood.

Some people get SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression linked to seasonal changes. I find I tend to get bluer around Winter/Spring time and I think it’s connected to not enough sun light.

My Symptoms

  • Low energy
  • lethargic in the morning
  • Problems getting to sleep some nights
  • Struggling to get up and going
  • Easy to tear up
  • Sense of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating on work tasks
  • Lack of motivation
  • I become a master procrastinator

Try to be easy on yourself

While I’m recovering from this bout of winter blues, I’ve put most of my extra goals on hold. I’m not bothered with my weight-loss goals, my book writing or app building. I’m giving myself time to recover. I’m trying to meditate in the sun in the mornings but that’s slow going. I’m open with my team at work for taking mental health days when I just don’t have the capacity for work. You can also use spoon theory to talk about your capacity.

If you are feeling something similar, try to set yourself small achievable goals and talk to someone about it. Reach out, you aren’t alone. Have you experienced SAD lately? What is part of your self care therapy?

Categories
Technology

Women in Tech

When I start talking about diversity in tech there’s a few points I usually like to make. Because I come from both a tech and engineering background there is a lot of overlap with women in Engineering roles and women working in tech. This blog post will compare diversity in tech and engineering.

We nearly had 40% female graduates in Computer Science

Traditional engineering fields such as mechanical engineering have always had low female participation rates at the university level. Where as computer science didn’t have that problem. A common reason why people think women stopped studying computer science was the personal computer came out in the 80’s and was marketed exclusively to boys. This was also around the time when Lego changed it’s marketing towards exclusive “boys toys”. (Lego was struggling financially before this point). This video below compares Lego’s 80’s advertising to current day advertising.

Some engineering fields have more diversity

What draws women to study Environmental and Biomedical engineering over Mechanical Engineering? I’d say it’s a perception thing, as a smart young women entering university, the amount of courses you could study is almost endless. You want to do something that feels like it’s going to benefit society as well as stimulate you intellectually.

Environmental Engineering definitely sounds like it’s going to benefit society more than Petroleum Engineering… Just saying.

Women and international students pass engineering degrees at higher rates

Once women decide to study Engineering they are more likely to see it through to successfully graduate. If women had some sort of innate ability that made them not good at engineering, you’d expect this number to be lower.

Some Muslim countries have better diversity in Engineering

Malaysia boasts about 30 – 40% of women engineering graduates

https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/106/papers/22417/view

People tend to associate Muslim countries with oppression of women, however choosing a STEM career is seen as a way for setting yourself up for financial independence in a lot of these countries. There’s a different cultural perception of value for these careers. People in these countries don’t think that maths is a skill you a born with and only boys are good at it. They believe to be good at this skill you need to study hard. There is a blog post on cultural influences here.

Women leave the field more frequently than men

To become an Engineer you have to be a smart cookie, it’s not an easy thing to do. I know this because I tried and failed in my efforts. But once you start working there’s lots of issues that constantly chip away at your sense of satisfaction in work. There’s also tons of non engineering fields out there that value transferable engineering skills, can be just as rewarding on an intellectual level and offer better work life balance.

Research also shows that women are disproportionately likely to move away from the most technical career paths and toward roles that involve technical supervision or management as their careers progress.

https://hbr.org/2018/11/the-subtle-stressors-making-women-want-to-leave-engineering

We have a women to leadership problem

If we look at a more traditional female job (teaching), 74% of the workforce are women but 49% of the principal’s are male. We naturally promote more men to leadership positions.

https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/ntwd_data_analysis_report.pdf

Diverse Companies perform better financially

I’ll leave you with this TED talk on how diversity is good your companies bottom dollar.

Categories
Conferences Mobile Testing Presenting Technology

DevWorld 2019

I recently attended /Dev/World in Melbourne this week. This is Australia’s only iOS developer conference. Here is my summary of the conference.

Photos from the conference on Twitter under the hashtag #DevWorld

Themes

There were a few themes that gleaned from the talks. These were;

  • Swift is the most talked about language in this space
  • People are still using Objective-C
  • Cross platform remains a hot topic (from iOS to mac, React Native and Flutter)
  • Augmented Reality is still a cool toy
  • How to build engaging experiences in your app
  • Game design stories
  • Testing

Sketchnotes

Here are my highlights:

You can access all of my sketchnotes on google photos here.

My Talks

I presented on swift UI & wearables using my sample poo tracking app as the basis for it. You can watch a similar talk from my twitch channel. You can also access my slide decks here. I also gave a lightning talk on how to do sketch noting. You can read this blog post if you are interested in learning about sketch noting. I also have this blog post on Right To Left bugs which was inspired from my talk if you are interested in reading more.

Recordings

Eventually the talks will be up on youtube under the AUC_ANZ youtube channel. You can access previous years talks there too.

Categories
Design Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

Right To Left design considerations for mobile apps

We truly live in a global and inter connected society. But have you tested your app using a Right to Left (RTL) language such as Arabic? This blog post is a reflection on some of the design considerations to keep in mind when accomodating this.

Why does this matter?

Arabic is one of the top 5 spoken languages in the world with around 3 hundred million speakers and it is the third most spoken language in Australia. Even if you only release apps for the Australian market someone out there will have Arabic set as their default device language. It’s ok if you haven’t translated your app, but you should check that these people can still use it.

How do I test this?

Android

Enable developer options and select “Force RTL layout direction”. On My Samsung S10 this is what my screen and options look like after enabling this option:

iOS

In Xcode you can change the build target language to a Pseudo RTL language to see how your app renders in this way without having to change the language on your device.

Number pads

You don’t actually need to render your key pads in Right To Left, in fact it’s actually more jarring to render numbers in a RTL arrangement because ATM’s and phone pads are left to right in Arabic. Most Arab’s are use to globalised number pads. Samsung has an in-depth article on when RTL should be applied.

When I have RTL rendering set on my android phone, the log in pin screen and phone call functionality is in LTR. However some of my banking apps render their pin pads in RTL.

Common RTL Issues

I was pleasantry surprised to find out how many of my apps weren’t broken when I switched to RTL rendering. Facebook, twitter and email still look very good. Some apps (like my calculator) do not make sense to render RTL and they remain LTR:

Bug One: Overlapping labels

You will have to watch out for when labels overlap like in the domain app here:

Bug Two: Visuals doesn’t match written language

And when your text is rendered RTL but the visual cue is still LTR like in the shade bar for representing countries visitors to my blog in this wordpress statistics view:

Bug Three: Menu’s that animate from the side

In the app I’m helping build, the side menu renders pretty funkily in RTL mode, I can’t show you a screenshot of this behaviour but it’s probably the quirkiest RTL bug I’ve seen. If you find an app with bad side menu behavior in RTL please share your screenshots with me.

But here are some screenshots of the CommSec app on android (LTR on the left and RTL on the right for comparison)

Bug Four: Icon’s aren’t flipped

Often icon’s have a direction associated with them like the walking person when you get google maps directions. Sometimes it can look a little odd when they aren’t flipped correctly (as if they are walking backwards).

Have you seen these bugs before?

Please let me know your thoughts or experiences in supporting RTL languages. I’d love to hear your stories.