EuroSTAR Conference 2018

What is EuroSTAR Conference 2018

EuroSTAR is an annual Software Testing Conference hosted in Europe, in November. The topics of the conference covered vary from improving software development process, like DevOps and Agile, or AI related automation testing, and also the mindset building-up to overcome recognization biases. For the details of this yearly Software Testers Festival, see the conference website here.

In 2018, the conference was held in The Hague, Netherlands, from November 12th to 15th.

Why I chose EuroSTAR conference

Europe is a place with diversity and built by many different peoples. This kind of diversity makes the attendee have the chance to build connections with different guys, not only come from software industry, or QA engineers, but also the manufacturing PM, the security industry engineers. 

During the 3-day conference, especially during the tutorials, the discussion with my team member was very interesting. Though sometimes I cannot quite understand their jokes, but cultural encountering and sharing also brings different result of brainstorming.

Summary of EuroSTAR conference

EuroSTAR is a testing focused conference in which attendees can discuss and share their own experience during tutorials. Though the topics I’ve attended looked like it had no state-of-art technology, but the basic methodology, like how a tester plans test designing and using a proved way to produce test cases; but these are still very useful in the current age. 

As a service QA engineer in LINE, my main task is not only verifying the quality of product features, but also the health of the whole project and processes. Reporting is another interesting topic to consider, as good reporting leads to good communication. “Who wants to use this report and what is this report for?” should be the question we should ask ourselves with the highest priority while we start preparing a report, like performance report, test/verification report, and so on.

And also as a tester, what I should have in mind is to utilize the limited time (resource-wise) to magnify the effect of my tasks; I should keep asking myself, “Are we there yet?” and make myself stop to review the result. After learning that time is limited, we need to embrace “ignorance”. Never be too confident to think that we can handle all cases nor all issues. We should think about what we can ignore and focus on what we should do.

Psychological bias was a very complicated topic but found was absolutely worth it to listen to. Sometimes, we do not understand why we made foolish decisions or why we screwed up something important. This topic shed a light on how our mind thinks and what the biases are. Hopefully, after we face such biases, we’ll think about them, and then we could avoid them in the future.

Notes from EuroSTAR conference

I’d like to briefly share the notes I took from the sessions I attended at the conference:

Test Fundamentals For Expert Testers

Rob Sabourin, the president of AmiBug.com based in Montreal, Canada led this tutorial session. The question was, “are we there yet?” Here is a quiz that was given to us.


Application screens are selected with three controls:

  1. With 5 options
  2. With 6 options
  3. With 2 options

How many screens can a user choose?

Moreover, how many tests would be required to exercise all possible screens in every possible order?


The first question is not that complicated if we consider the three controls are going sequentially. So, we multiply the options; 5 x 6 x 2 which is equal to 60. There are 60 screens that a user can choose from. As a tester, we should create 60 test cases to go through all the 60 screens to make sure there’s nothing going bad.

However, if we take “ordering” into consideration, there would be 60! possibilities we should take care of.

60! = 60 x 59 x 58 x ... x 3 x 2 x 1

The result is around 8.32 x 1081, which is a huge number that we cannot reach to complete the testing. So what are we going to do? Or how do we know when we are finished? Rob emphasized to set the milestones and verify that we are there yet.

I’d like to share some quotes about testing:

  • Quality is fitness for use. (User Story)
  • Program testing is to be used to show presence of bugs, but never to show their absence. (There’s nothing called “Bug Free”)
  • Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill time available for its completion. (Limit your time to a task. When time is up, review it and consider if you should continue it or move onto next task)
  • Pareto Principle: The critical few and the trivial many (80% vs 20%)

Have you seen this video? We watched this video together, Rabbit Season, Duck Season trilogy, and here are the points he provided us to ponder upon:

  • Are we on the same page?
  • How could we make it if we still use the same way to do things wrongly?
  • How does the hunter know it’s a rabbit or a duck?
  • Inefficient tool — the duck is shut again and again, but never goes down.

Rob also shared designing tests and pointed out the following elements:

  • Variable definition
    • Using a mind map to find out all the variables
    • Acts on variables
      • Ignore
      • Default values
      • Specific values
      • Observe
  • Decision table

Improve your Sprint retrospectives by reducing your cognitive biases

Andrew Brown, a principal technical consultant at SQS presented this session

Challenges of Retrospectives

  • Retrospective of a Sprint could give team members a chance to think about what they have done (especially the bad) and what will they to do better in the future (next Sprint).
  • However, lessons are not learned.

“What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • Issues in Sprint, but not in retrospective
  • Failure to understand issue
  • Issues not acted upon

The biases in depth

  • Hindsight bias, as known as the “I knew it all along” effect
    • Failure to get to true root causes
    • Failure to learn
    • Apply inappropriate learnings
  • Survivorship bias
    • Concentrating on people or items that “survived” some process, overlooking items that didn’t, because of their lack of visibility
    • Try to ask, “What am I not seeing?”
  • Memory failure (Sins of memory)
    • Transience: Decreasing accessibility of information over time.
    • Absent-mindedness: Memory suffers when item encoded at shallow level.
    • Blocking: As known as the “tip of the tongue (TOT) state” or “ugly sisters”.
    • Misattribution: We may not recall the proper source of the memory but we can recall the memory, so a false memory is created to explain the source.
    • Suggestibility
      • Memories implanted through leading questions or comments during attempts to recall past experiences.
      • Check the car SMASHED video clips then ask “Do you see any broken glass?”
    • Bias: Memories of past experiences colored by present mood
  • Our memory is poor; avoid relying upon memory, not only yours but also other’s
  • Other biases
    • Outcome bias: Decisions taken to avoid blame
    • Bike-shedding bias
    • IKEA effect: Place more value on objects self-assembled
    • Status Quo bias: Like things to stay relatively the sameBiases in Chinese reference

Testing in the Dark

Rob Sabourin, the president of AmiBug.com presented this talk.

Asking the questions

  • 5W1H
    • Who matters? Who is the user, who is asking me to test, who…
    • Why matters? 
    • What matters?
    • Where matters?
    • When matters?
    • How matters?
  • Context also matters

Mindset

  • Guess and adapt: Try to guess the un-knowns and then take action to verify
  • The process : Kick off > Prepare > Run > Complete > Review

Accepting Ignorance – The Driving Force of a Good Tester

Patrick Prill, is team lead of a small testing team in a product and consulting company for the automotive industry

  • Everything starts from questions
  • The pursuit of ignorance (TED talk)
  • Good question leads high-value ignorance (To know what we can ignore)
  • Imposter syndrome: To believe yourself
  • Don’t underestimate: Some knowledge grows other ones

Journey to Effective Reporting – Make the Impact!

Vojtěch Barta is QA lead and Scrum Master in Newired serving small team delivering own software in the area of On-boarding, guiding and UX.

  • A report is built by a roof, 4 pillars, and 3 foundations:
    • 1 roof: Impact
    • 4 pillars: Expectation, Efficiency, Emotion, Action
    • 3 foundations: Personas, Numbers, Context
  • Are we happy or not?
  • Identify the group of people (Stakeholders)
  • Numbers do tell the truth, but how do you describe the truth?
  • Context, sometimes we use comparing, but be careful of it or it hurts something or somebody else.

Ending notes

It was my pleasure to take this chance to join such fulfilled conference. Working at LINE makes me feel proud of my job, and LINE never sets limits to its employees’ future!

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