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Moving my QA blogging to Software Quality Insights February 4, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
3 comments

Here I am, a working woman again! I started my new job at TechTarget as Site Editor for searchsoftwarequality.com. I have gotten so many wonderful notes of congratulations from many of you.  And truly, if it weren’t for you, I never would have gotten the new job. I’d always hoped that somehow my blog would lead me to a job and that’s exactly what happened. It’s amazing how we can put our message out to the world and somehow the right people find us!

But, alas, now I’m moving on and must say Goodbye to this particular blog. The good news is, I’m still going to be blogging about QA, I’m just moving to a new address in the blogosphere!  I’m also still hosting Beyond Certification as well so I suspect and hope that I will still be connecting with many of you for years to come.  Here’s where you can find me:

Blogging about QA

On the Search Quality Insights blog  (By the way, this blog currently doesn’t appear to get very many comments, so it would be great if some of you got over there and started some discussions!)

Beyond Certification is the network I started to help people get distributed agile experience.  Even if you’re not interested in distributed agile, I’m hoping to help people find jobs for telecommuting or freelance testing at some point, so if you’re interested in that, come join.

Blogging about Social Media

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep up with my social media blog, but I hope once I get in the groove of my new job, I’ll still have time to coach people on the use of social media (and continue to use it myself!) I really think social media is a tremendous way to network and find just the right people to connect with. My blog is Who Gives a Twit?

Blogging about Relationships / The Laptop Dancer Diaries

My final blog is one that I didn’t advertise too much while I was in “job-search” mode, but I have a blog about being a single Mom and a book coming out at the end of this month called The Laptop Dancer Diaries. It’s a rather embarrassing year-long diary about looking for adventures and love at an older age. It has nothing to do with QA, but if you’re interested, come join the FaceBook Fan Page and you’ll find out more.

I Got the Perfect Job -Thanks to YOU! January 15, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
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YOU are Jan Stafford, of TechTarget, willing to take a chance on a candidate without a journalism background, offering me an opportunity at SSQ which would allow me to pursue my passions: writing, social media, and  software dev & QA. What could be more perfect than that?

YOU are Matthew Heusser, a recognized QA leader who took enough interest in my blog and my background to recommend me for this job. Without that generosity, I never would have known about this opportunity.

YOU are the many industry professionals that blog and write and share your knowledge freely with people like me.  You never judge me for asking questions and regardless of your status or importance, you treat me as an equal.  Because of you, I had the knowledge and confidence I needed to get this job.

YOU are the people who take the time to write comments, ReTweet, engage, and encourage me as I’ve been on this journey to learn and grow.  It’s because of you that I became somewhat obsessive about social media! (OK, maybe not ALWAYS a good thing!)

YOU are my fellow job-seekers…always ready to share leads and advice and stay positive, no matter what disappointments or fears you were facing yourself. It was in talking to you that I learned the value of community. Your strength inspires me.

YOU are my friends who never gave up on me. You continued to treat me with as much respect and confidence in my skills as you always have, regardless of my unemployment status. You treated me to lunches, listened to my ideas, and supported my efforts. You made me feel valued.

YOU are my neighbors who so generously gave frequent flyer miles so that my son and I could fly to  Sacramento to be with my father as he was undergoing life-threatening cancer surgery.  Because of you, I was able to focus on the people who matter most to me.

YOU are my family who listened and always had faith in me. Whatever problem I’m dealing with, you are there.

YOU are my son who instead of complaining about what we could no longer afford, offered to help pay for expenses with your own hard-earned money.  Even though you are only 15 years old, you are the person who I most admire in the entire world.  You motivated me to find a job that would allow me to work from home so that I could be there for you in these last few years before you fly the coup.

YOU are God, who answered my prayers. Even though I know there are a lot of more serious problems out there for You to deal with, You gave me exactly what I asked for.

~~~~

I start a job at TechTarget as an editor for SearchSoftwareQuality on Monday.  I couldn’t be more thrilled.   All is right with the YOUniverse!

Thank YOU!

Experiencing Agile January 13, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
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Lisa CrispinI feel just like a cheesy tabloid posting this out-of-focus candid photo I took of QA-celebrity, Lisa Crispin, at the SQuAD meeting last night.  I just had my iPhone with me and I’m not a great photographer regardless of the camera, so I apologize for the poor quality. (Oh dear… poor quality on a site about quality!  One of my pet peeves!)

However, despite the bad photo, I did want to show off that I was able to make it to both my Scrum Master class and the SQuAD meeting last night — both giving me the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with Agile concepts!  (I had to skip the last hour of Scrum Master class and the first hour of SQuAD, but class instructor, Jean Tabaka, was supportive and asked me to send her ‘hello’s’ to colleague, Lisa Crispin.)

I’m really enjoying the Scrum Master class.  Even though it’s review of concepts I’ve already read about, it’s all been book study, and in the class, we have been actually able to “experience” a “59 Minute Scrum” with the goal of developing a marketing brochure.  The exercise included a 15 minute Sprint Planning Meeting, 2 10 minute Sprints (representing 2 days), a 3 minute Daily Standup Meeting, a 12-minute Sprint Review and Demo, and a 9-minute Debrief.  I got to play “Scrum Master” for my group during this exercise.  There was also a Product Owner and 4 team members who represented the dev team.

It was an interesting exercise and gave me some ideas of how I might do some similar things in the Beyond Certification group.  I’m still trying to figure out effective ways for members to gain real experience, but maybe we start with exercises such as this one.

At the SQuAD meeting, we didn’t get to “sprints,” but split up into groups and used some brainstorming techniques to come up with agenda topics for 2010.  This would be similar to working with the Product Owner to come up with prioritized backlog items.

Overall, the agile approach is one that really emphasizes collaboration.  The skills of the Scrum Master are very similar to the skills I was taught when going through coaching certification. The idea is not to solve the problem, but to facilitate, remove obstacles, listen, and ask the probing questions to help the team come to consensus and achieve their goals.

I’m glad I was able to make it to both events and to meet Agile Queen, Lisa Crispin, at last. I really admire that woman…  Despite how busy she is, she takes the time to come to these events and teach and mentor others.

Another perk of making it to the meeting was that I was able to meet someone else I admire: Jim Hazen! Jim was one of the first who commented on my blog and he has been so supportive in my job search. I have a special place in my heart for those who go out of their way to help others…especially people they don’t even know.  And when you’ve only spoken with a person “virtually” it’s great to finally meet them in person.  For Jim and others that have encouraged me during this job search, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I’ve had some great leads and I’m feeling very good about opportunities that are coming my way, thanks to the support and help from others.

And now it’s time to get going to my second day of Scrum Master training and get certified at last!

//

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Agile Tuesday January 11, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
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Tomorrow is going to be a very Agile Day! For me, this presents both good news and bad news.

The good news is I’m finally going to get my ScrumMaster certification through AgileUniversity / RallySoftware.  I’ve been trying to get in this class for months, but I’ve needed to go through a lot of paperwork “stuff” to get it approved through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program.

The bad news is that I’ll have to miss tomorrow’s SQuAD meeting which will be demonstrating Agile using a Scrum methodology to determine the group’s agenda for 2010. This looks like a really interesting meeting with presenters: Frank Vega – Agile Coach; Lisa Crispin & Charity Stoner – Scrum Masters.

I’ve seen Lisa online (not to mention on the bookshelves at Borders) and I’ve really wanted to meet her!  Quite the bummer that I’ll have to miss this one. Unfortunately, the Agile class ends at 5pm in Boulder and the SQuAD meeting runs 4-6pm in Denver, and with rush-hour traffic, there’s no way I’d be able to do both.  C’est la vie.  I’m going to see if I can set up a call with Lisa so I might be able to pick her brain and maybe get a podcast for the blog.  If any of you are attending tomorrow’s SQuAD session, be sure and report back about what you learned!

LOLSpeak January 8, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
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I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a word freak.  I love the English language. I subscribe to the word-of-the-day and love word games of all types. I’m intrigued by foreign languages, even the “made up” variety like pig latin and Klingon. (Check out my Crapola Translater post.)

Today over on the writing-about-testing site there was a post about this LOLSpeak site and I guess I’m getting old because my snob-meter came out and I felt like screaming, “NO! Stopz teh Madddnez!” How will kids ever figure out how to spell things right if we not only allow for all these crazy variations on words, but actually encourage it?

I  accept NetLingo as a part of our culture, though I’ve never liked the ubiquitous LOL.  That acronym should truly be reserved for those times when you are really, truly, laughing out loud, and not for those times you are trying to tell your reader that your kidding.  In my opinion, smiley faces and the various emoticons are a much more acceptable method of relaying your smile.  (OK, I overuse those, along with exclamation points. :-)) People that overuse LOL lose all credibility with me about their facial expressions or the level of hilarity they’re actually experiencing. And don’t even get me started on LMAO.

All this ranting on my part, however, does have a point…other than me just being a snob about spelling.  Some of the “professional” papers I’ve been downloading and reading lately have really made me cringe due to their lack of professionalism.  I’m talking poor grammar, poor word choice, poor formatting…  stuff that really needs an editor! Now, I know I’m not perfect.  I know I make mistakes all the time on this blog and in all my writing.  We all do!  (On a different blog, I once noted my intolerance for misspellings and got three emails about misspellings I’d made on old postings…  At least it got people to read my blog!)  And depending on your mode of communication and your style of writing, certain errors are expected…maybe even done purposely…such as that dreadful LOLSpeak site.

But, if you are trying to sell something….especially related to quality, take the time to do some quality-testing (ie. editing) on your Website, your white papers, your eBooks, or your articles.

I think this is especially true if English is not your first language.  I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be  for that group. We spoiled, native English speakers can’t even get it right, so how can we expect them to? However, we do expect them to get it right. And if writing is filled with misuses of grammar, we tend to judge it as inferior, stop reading, and perhaps miss out on some incredible content.

Just like an exceptional application will not have any users if its interface is poorly designed, documentation will not get read if it lacks proper presentation and formatting. Take time to make sure you have a good user interface on your docs.

My recommendations? Stay away from LOLSpeak! Go ahead and LOL once in awhile, but save it for the times when you’re REALLY laughing out loud. For professional documents, have someone that speaks the native language well (preferably an editor!) review your work.  Don’t send it out until that’s been done!  Oh, and one more thing…  Go ahead and overuse smiley faces (at least whenever you’re writing to me!)🙂

And the Award for Best Software Engineering Website Goes to…. January 7, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.
4 comments

Best Software Engineering Website

SoftwareQATest.com

That’s the winning Software Engineering Website  according to Alexa.Com.  The full list includes many sites that I was aware of and many that I wasn’t!  And as I explore each one, my mind becomes more and more overwhelmed with all the information that’s available to us, thanks to the Web.

For the last couple of days I’ve been blogging about creating a “Exploratory Testing Repository to try and organize a lot of this data.” Well,  after a good discussion with James Bach via a LinkedIn thread and reviewing this comprehensive list by Michael Bolton, I’ve decided the world wide web probably doesn’t need yet another source with lots of links to other resources.

This was just part of my grand scheme to create the most comprehensive “Everything QA”  Website EVER.  It’s already been done! Lots of times!  There’s so much out there that my head hurts! It’s all good…. just overwhelming.

Anyway, I have to say that I am very impressed with the winning site,  SoftwareQATest.com, and I especially like the list of Web Test Tools and resources.  This is kind of what I’d envisioned the “repository” would be like, only I was thinking it would be something people could run queries against and add to (like a database or wiki).

Since this appears to be such a popular site, I’m going to suggest to the owner,  Rick Hower, that he include a link to that great list of Exploratory Test Resources that Michael Bolton put together. Maybe I’ll put a plug in for Beyond Certification as well.

And that will complete the Exploratory Testing Repository Project! Are we good or what! (OK, it kinda helps to have Michael Bolton in the group…😉 )

Exploratory Test Repository – What does that mean? January 6, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
5 comments

I’ve been talking about creating this “Exploratory Test Repository” and a few people have wanted to get some clarification.  I was planning on a call with James Whittaker tomorrow, since he was the one that sparked this idea in the presentation he gave, though I decided to postpone the meeting until January 20th.   Before I talked to him, I wanted to get a better idea of existing resources.

Michael Bolton pointed me to some additional resources a few weeks ago.   James Bach responded to my message via LinkedIn making me aware of  these additional resources:

Cem Kaner’s book Testing Computer Software. Later I coined the term “risk catalog” back in 1999 or so, and published an example of such a catalog for install testing as part of my class notes.

Cem calls them “bug taxonomies” and one of his students at FIT produced and published such a taxonomy for testing e-commerce sites.

The Satisfice heuristic test strategy model is also such a list, although it cuts across technologies.

Michael Hunter’s “YANDY” lists are voluminous and technology specific.

My thought was that if all these resources could be combined into a common format and the data stored in a database that it might be a helpful resource for the test community.  It would also allow for the possibility of develop and share utilities aimed at catching common types of bugs.

James noted how important it is for testers to actually LEARN TO TEST as opposed to using “cheat sheets.” I think the point here is that you are not going to be adding much value if you are just following a step-by-step script. Testers need to really understand the technology and the applications they’re testing and think creatively.

James is serious enough about helping others learn to test that he’s offered free coaching sessions via Skype for those who are eager to learn.  I was intrigued by this creative approach and think this is just another example of how we can use technology to share and help one another, regardless of physical location.

Anyway, as much as I agree with James that creative thinking in testing is necessary, I still think a database that would allow for sharing of common bugs and techniques for finding those bugs (what I’m referring to as an “Exploratory Test Repository) would be a helpful tool.

What are your thoughts?

Beyond Certification Grows Global Community January 4, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in Beyond Certification.
6 comments

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about the Beyond Certification network. In just a few short weeks there have been 90 people that have joined representing 11 different countries! That’s right. We currently have representation from:

  1. US
  2. Switzerland
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. UK
  6. Argentina
  7. Canada
  8. New Zealand
  9. Germany
  10. France
  11. Israel

That’s a pretty healthy distribution for a group with 90 people. It’s wonderful to have such a diverse and global group!  One of the things I absolutely love about the Web is the power it provides to network with people from around the world.

Not only do we have global representation, as I’ve blogged about in the past, there are some big names on the site. I sent out an email to the group today, hinting at our first project. Take a look below and if you think this is a group you want to be a part of, I encourage you to sign up!

Update: Rob Lambert, another highly respected Software Testing Club founder just signed up! Yippee!

Message to Beyond Certification Network:

Happy New Year!

I’m very excited about Beyond Certification and wanted to welcome you all to this community. This group is meant to help IT Professionals gain professional development experience, particularly with Distributed Agile skills. An emphasis is on Software Quality Assurance, though we need professionals who are interested in all aspects of the development cycle.

Membership

Currently we have 90 members representing 11 different countries. Experience with Agile varies from those who are brand new to Agile, to expert, Lisa Crispin, co-author of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams.  We have other members who are experts and writers and trainers in the field of Software Quality Assurance including notables, Michael Bolton and Matthew Heusser. We have two founding members from The Weekend Testing group, Ajay Balamurugadas and Parimala Shankaraiah.  The Weekend Testing group is a professional development group that holds Weekend Challenges in Exploratory Testing, and sparked the inspiration for this group. We have several members from The Software Testing Club here, an excellent network for Software Testers, including founding members Rosie Sherry and Phil Kirkham. We have Joel Montvelisky,  another prominent member of the Software Testing Club, who is willing to let us use the PractiTest software product for our project management and bug tracking needs.

There are other names that I recognize and respect as well as many names that are new to me. My hope is that as we learn and apply our knowledge via distributed agile projects, we will not only gain skills, but open up more employment opportunities for those who are interested in telecommuting. I’m so honored to be a part of a group that is interested in learning and sharing knowledge.

Now let’s get started!

Exploratory Test Repository Project

After attending a Webinar about Exploratory Testing, hosted by uTest and presented by James Whittaker, I got the idea that creating an Open Source Exploratory Test Repository might be a great project for this team. I have a meeting set for January 6th to talk to James Whittaker about this further. Once I have a better idea of what the requirements, skills, and time commitment for this project might be, I will be recruiting amongst you. I suspect we will begin the project in February.

Goals for January

1) Meet with James Whittaker from Google to discuss Beyond Certification and the possibility of Exploratory Test Repository Project.
2) Share and promote resources aimed at helping the group learn more about Agile Development.
3) Improve the Beyond Certification site, adding more information and promoting active sharing.
4) Learn PractiTest and prepare to use it for our first project.
5) Outline requirements and recruit Agile Team for our first project.

What You Can Do

1) Participate! Fill out your profile, introduce yourself, use the Forums to start discussions. Ask questions.
2) Recruit others. The more people and participation we have, the more likely we are to be a successful group.
3) Learn more about Distributed Agile and share your learnings. What books, tools, resources, etc. have you found to be useful? Let others know. Start groups around topics for studying, learning, or discussion.
4) If you think you might be interested in participating in the Exploratory Test Repository Project, let me know. I will be starting a group and keeping you posted with updates and resources to get us started.
5) Have fun!

Once in a Blue Moon January 1, 2010

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
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Remember 10 years ago when there was all the Y2K scare? Those of us that were working in the software industry were going about endless testing in the end of 1999, trying to ensure all the predictions of chaos would not come to fruition on Jan. 1, 2000.

I was on call that night, managing a remote staff.  My Australian staff member had the first glimpse of the New Year and we all breathed easier as all the code continued to work as the time changed across time zones without incident.

I wondered last night whether anyone was worried about date logic this year.  By this time, we should be pretty smart about dealing with coding and testing date logic in our applications, but it does seem to be an error prone area.  And with last night being a Blue Moon and all, I wondered if there were any superstitions or Y2K-like fears that logic would be broken by the unusual circumstance.

I read about Blue Moon in Wikipedia:

Recent popular usage defined a blue moon as the second full moon in a calendar month, stemming from an interpretation error made in 1946 that was discovered in 1999.[1]

So, in fact, last night’s Blue Moon might not really be a “Blue Moon.” Is there some astrologer somewhere using faulty software that will be confused?  With all the recent interests in Vampires, does something different happen on a Blue Moon? Will the Vampires of the world need to make sure their iPhone apps are working correctly and know whether in fact last night was actually a “Blue” moon? There’s a whole lot more about Blue Moons in the article, but I didn’t see any explanation of exactly why it’s called “Blue.”  It doesn’t look any bluer than any other full moon. As I sat pondering this unusual occurrence of a 2nd full moon, referred to (perhaps erroneously) as blue moon coupled with a passing of a decade, I wondered if the software gurus of the world were catching any unusual bugs…  those types that only happen once in a blue moon..

In any case, we did have a second full moon last night as we passed from the last night of 2009 and into the first day of 2010. I don’t know if it caused any computer glitches or confusion amongst the astrologists and vampires, but it looked pretty darn beautiful to me.

//

Spend Time With the Baby December 31, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in Uncategorized.
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It’s New Year’s Eve, and as usual, my goal list of all the things I want to do is fully loaded. I love the internet. An endless library to browse and learn from. So many tools and technologies for us to play with. So many people to connect with.

I’ve been loving these past months of learning, reading, writing, blogging, and networking. Who knew being unemployed could be so fulfilling?  But this last couple of weeks, over the holidays, I decided to take a break and concentrate on family.

See that adorable baby? That’s my little grandson (I’d like to add here that both his mother and I had our first born at very young ages. He is the only person that is allowed to call me “Grandma” which still sounds like: “Ah!” (The word he uses to describe everything.))  I’m lucky enough to have that cute little guy (along with his parents) living 30 minutes from me. I also have a son going to Medical School in Denver and another son, my 15-year-old baby, still at home.  I haven’t had to run off to a job for the past 6 months, yet, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t take advantage of spending more time with those people that are most important to me.  Funny that when I was working, I seemed to make more of an effort to achieve “work-life balance” than I have since I’ve been unemployed.

The internet can be so addicting. It’s great to enjoy our work, technology, and all our virtual friends and contacts, but not at the expense of the “real” people in our life.  So, while my resolution list still includes plenty of job-related goals, my most important resolution is to spend more time with those people that I love.

Diego, Grandma will set you up with a Twitter account, and we’ll get you tweeting that cute little “Ah!” all over the Web.

May 2010 be filled with peace and happiness.

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