EuroSTAR: The Good Stuff

Much of what I've reported about EuroSTAR has been on the topic that had the most energy around it--the very gratifying response to my keynote presentation. I'd be remiss in not mentioning some other highlights.A tip of the hat to Tracy O'Connell and the friendly, helpful, and capable staff of EuroSTAR 2007. The entire conference went off splendidly.Henrik Andersson, a member of the context-driven community and a real driver of investigative testing at Sogeti, was a very kind and able host. Henrik is a kind of agent provocateur (in all of the good ways, and none of the bad) in the Swedish testing community. If you're able to hear him speak or to get into a conversation with him, do it. You'll be rewarded for your time.Sogeti held a wonderful dinner in downtown Stockholm one of the nights of the conference, and I was very grateful to be invited. Many thanks.At that dinner, I met Mattias Göransson. We played three testing games, exercises from Rapid Software Testing. He did very well on two of them. One, called The Mysterious Sphere, he destroyed. With one question (which I can't reveal here, because to do so would compromise the exercise for anyone reading the blog), he undermined the foundation of the problem posed by the exercise, such that the problem entirely collapsed around itself. I was dead impressed.The night earlier, Björn Hagstrom was also game enough to try one of the testing puzzles. This one uses the dice to model a certain class of testing problem. It's not an easy problem to start with, and there's an element of randomness to it that can lead to quick insight or great difficulty in solving it. Bjorn had absolutely the worst luck I've seen in almost three years of presenting this exercise. Nonetheless, he hung in there, and used his wiles and his resources (including some observations from a tester sitting next to him, a French fellow named Yannick--I'm sorry I didn't get his last name, because I'd like to keep in touch with him). Admirable stamina in the face of terrible lucTorbjörn Ryber also worked on a special puzzle, a work in progress that will eventually become an RST exercise. He provided a bunch of valuable observations that will make the exercise stronger. Better yet, he brought (and gave away) 6oo copies of his just-published-in-English book, Essential Software Test Design. I haven't read it yet, but it's on the stack, I have scanned it, and it looks excellent.It's fun showing puzzles to other testers. I get a warm feeling about people who are willing to accept the challenges, and I really appreciate learning about other people's approaches to solving them. All of these guys were really impressive in their strategies and tactics.Stuart Reid and I have very strong differences of opinion on certification and other aspects of testing. I perceive that he sees some things as hard that I think are easier, and I perceive that he seeks simplicity and assurance in a world that I see as sometimes complex and messy--and yet still perfectly livable. We had a very animated discussion in front of the exhibit hall at EuroSTAR that might have entertained some of the onlookers and startled others. I appreciate the good will and respect that Stuart offered, and offer the same in return, despite the disagreements. Time will sort those out eventually, and we'll both learn things along the way. I thank Stuart for the energetic discussion (neither of us had had coffee!) and for the opportunity to keynote at the conference.Still more to come on EuroSTAR...