UKStar 2018 In Retrospect

It has been a while old friend

It was with a stroke of luck that lead me to attend this years UKStar conference. Our Principal QA had won a ticket through a Guy Fawkes competition and then unexpectedly was unable to attend. When he offered out the ticket to the Leads group I jumped at the chance to take it.

It’s been a long time since I had attended what I would call a traditional testing conference. I was working in video games at that point in time and a lot of what was talked about didn’t seem particularly relevant. The speakers and their topics felt a little insular, less about testing and maybe a little more about us and them. I don’t remember the exact question or the response, but I do remember asking a question with a games perspective and being told I was wrong. Maybe it’s that feeling which is overriding the view of the rest of my time there.

With that said, I’d love to go back in time and attend again to see whether or not I’d feel the same about it now.

After that brief bit of history, I’m incredibly pleased to say that my opinion of UKStar couldn’t be more opposite. Both days were invigorating experiences that have once again given me a buzz to work within the testing community. It was amazing to meet a whole bunch of people who are passionate about the area I’ve been lucky enough to have had a long and exciting career in. As well as thanking the celebs of the testing world, who were happy for me to come and say hi, I need to send a massive shout out to James Lyndsey for coming over at the beginning of day 1 and saying hello.

I think I am a typical introvert. I get incredibly anxious introducing myself to people who I don’t know and especially so in big crowds. Situations where, even if I have met you before but I’ve forgotten your name, can be equally as awkward for me.

I’m pretty sure that had James not come over and said ‘hello’ right then, my enjoyment of the rest of the conference might have been slightly more muted.

Pick of the talkers

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the talks and workshops that I attended and with that I offer another massive round of applause to all of you. You were brave enough to put yourself in front of us and deliver with high quality – bravo!

Two talks stood out for me, not just because I find their subjects fascinating, but more importantly, because both speakers were individually inspirational. Dorothy Graham and Isabel Evans were absolutely the highlights of my two days at UKStar. Two incredibly intelligent women, owning the stage and engrossing every single one of their audience members. I sat in awe of Dorothy ending her talk with a song! That’s one incredibly high bar that’s been set with those 60 seconds alone.

Then Isabel’s day two keynote kicked off the day with an explanation of individual behaviour and group hierarchy’s which was delivered with the panache you’d expect of Stephen Fry hosting the BAFTAs! And just as I thought that couldn’t be topped, minutes later it was! Isabel referenced Morgan cars and double dip clutches in her tools and automation focussed workshop!

And then it’s over

All too quickly the two days ended and we head back to our normal working lives. Some, more sensible than others, headed off to TestBash Brighton to keep the momentum rolling and I’m looking forward to hearing and reading about their experiences there.

For me, I’m still digesting my own experience at UKStar and trying to find opportunities in my role to slip in my learnings. Firstly, over the coming weeks, I’ll be condensing the two days in to 30minutes, to present back to my team a little more detail on my experience, hoping to inspire my friends and colleagues to head off and join in with the testing community in the near future.

We’re also going through a little change in our team at present. The thoughts, insight and encouragement from the presenters at UKStar will remain fresh in mind to help me help the team make our change as smooth as possible. Leading to hopefully an even more successful outcome than what was originally possible.

You never know, at UKStar 2019 I might be lucky enough to share the stage with some of you and talk about it. We’re definitely implementing some interesting ideas that I’m quite excited about and may be of interest to some of you.

Thanks again UKStar for a great two days, I can’t wait for UKStar 2019!

My UKStar Itinirary

Day 1

Keynote – Growing a Testing Community of Practice & Navigating ‘Traditional’ Mindsets, Christina Ohanian

Workshop – Mapping Cognition to Software Modelling & Testing, Alan Richardson & Dr. Gustav Kuhn

Testification – Learn Testing with Gamification, Nicholas Hjelmberg

Blockchain Applications and How to Test Them, Rhian Lewis

The Testing Swing, Laurant Py

Experiences in Testing Infrastructure Projects, Jesper Ottosen

Testing Skills I learned Playing Dungeons & Dragons, Magnus Petterson

The Testers’ Three C’s: Criticism, Communication and Confidence, Dorothy Graham

Keynote – The User Illusion: Why Magic Works, Dr. Gustav Kuhn

Day 2

Keynote – Leadership, Fellowship & Followership, Isabel Evans

No More Shelfware – Let’s Drive!, Isabel Evans

Testing Through the Log File, Johan Sandell

Talking About Talking About Testing, Richard Paterson

Conversation – If the Universities Won’t Help Us, How Do We #MakeATester, Simon Prior

Conversation – Daring to Provide More Value Than Simply Testing, Joel Montvelisky

Basic Pathologies of Simple Systems, James Lindsay

Keynote – Connecting the Beats with the Bytes, Frank Wammes

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