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Better Software Testers – Part II

Better Software Testers – Part II

Since repetition is the key to learning, in my last post, I began sharing some ways for software testers to improve and become more marketable, following a webinar by Mike Lyles who made the point that “Testing is Not a 9 to 5 Job”.

After beginning to compile a list of resources, it became clear pretty quickly that I needed to break it up into smaller bites. So let’s pick up where I left off.

Blogs

I use Feedly to follow a number of blog RSS feeds. I also follow a number of blogs on WordPress.com. I don’t just follow QA blogs, but also ones covering Agile, Development, Product Management, and UX topics.

  • Satisfice.com — Whether you agree or disagree with him, this blog by James Bach, one of the co-founders of Rapid Software Testing, is always thought provoking. He doesn’t post regularly, but when he does it’s worth checking out.
  • DevelopSense — While I’m not really a fan of how this website looks, you can’t beat the content from Michael Bolton, the other co-founder of Rapid Software Testing
  • TESTHEAD — Michael Larsen regularly posts great content to this blog, and he’s a co-host of the “The Testing Show” podcast.
  • Angie Jones — Angie is currently a Sr. Automation Engineer at Twitter, and a highly sought after automation expert. She’s a regular on the conference speaking circuit.
  • Joe Colantonio — Joe is another great automation expert, co-host of the “Test Talks” podcast, and organizer of several online conferences such as the “Automation Guild” and the “Performance Guild”.
  • Adventures in Automation — This blog by T.J. Maher is a great resource for all things about Automation.
  • Evil Tester — Alan Richardson has written a number of books, has a nice video library on YouTube, and has a great “Technical Web Testing 101” online training course.
  • Friendly Tester — This blog by Richard Bradshaw, the new “BossBoss” of the Ministry of Testing is another great resource. He wrote a blog post in August offering “Three Free Programming Courses for Testers” but he’s since migrated that content to a new website that he’s developing with Mark Winteringham called “Automation in Testing”.
  • The Testing Planet — This blog is just another of the great resources from the Ministry of Testing. It would be great if you could find all their blog posts together in one spot, instead of a separate link for each year plus the archives.
  • Testing Feeds — The Ministry of Testing maintains an RSS feed of 750+ software testing blogs, the largest such collection you’ll find anywhere.

There’s SO many more I could mention. If you find a company in the software development business, it’s likely they have a great blog worth following as well, such as ApplitoolsGurockPerfectoQASymphonySauce Labs, etc.

Magazines

Better Software — The Better Software magazine is released quarterly by TechWell. The entire 15 year archive is available for free when you signup for a StickyMinds account.

Tea-time with Testers — Tea-time with Testers is intended to be published as a monthly magazine, but a quick review of the website indicates that not to be the case. However, it appears it’s still being published, with a new edition in January of 2018.

Testing Trapeze — Testing Trapeze is a bi-monthly testing magazine published by our friends down under in Australia and New Zealand. This magazine was previously titled Testing Circus. You can find archives of Testing Circus on the old website.

TEST Magazine — TEST Magazine is published bi-monthly, and is read across the U.S., Europe, and South Asia by over 10,000 members.

Better Software and Testing Trapeze are really the only testing magazines I follow with any regularity.

Meetups

I’m an active member and attendee at a number of different user group events locally. I make an effort every month to check out the various groups, and to publish a calendar of events for the local community. I can’t take credit for the website, but I’ve taken advantage of it to learn more about using GitHub, and I didn’t have to write any code to do so.

I’m also the Vice President / Treasurer of DAQAA — the Des Moines Area Quality Assurance Association. I’ve been an active member of the board for a number of years. The group meets monthly to discuss various software testing topics. I got involved mainly because I wanted to get more out of the DAQAA meetings I was attending, so I volunteered. Naturally, it’s been a learning experience for me with event planning and promotion, and updating our website and social media accounts.

The same website where I publish community events also has a list of local user groups. New ones seem to spring up all the time, so I also check Meetup and Eventbrite for a list of upcoming tech events I may have missed.

Conferences

The Des Moines metro is host to a number of great conferences every year.

  • World IA Day — World Information Architecture Day is an annual one-day event organized by the Information Architecture Institute, held in dozens of locations around the world. Des Moines hosted it’s 5th World IA Day event in 2018.
  • IBADD — The Iowa Business Analyst Development Day (IBADD for short) is hosted annually by the IIBA Central Iowa Chapter. Last year marked the 10th annual conference. It’s the premier conference for Business Analysts in Iowa.
  • BSidesIowa — This is a local security conference held in Des Moines almost annually since its inception in 2012.
  • Iowa Code Camp —Iowa Code Camp is held twice every year, in the Spring or Summer in Eastern Iowa (usually held in Coralville), and in the Fall in Central Iowa (most recently held in Ankeny). The conference is FREE, and is billed as for developers, by developers. I’ve attended this conference for a number of years, both in the Spring and the Fall. I always find valuable sessions to attend, and you can’t beat the price. Last fall’s conference was the 20th Iowa Code Camp event.
  • Prairie.Code() — This is an Amegala multi-day conference hosted annually in Des Moines, covering a wide range of software development topics.
  • dsmAgile — This annual Agile conference is held every fall in Des Moines, and is organized by Agile Iowa. The unique feature of this conference is the speaker pitch at the start of the day. Each of the speakers gives their pitch on why you should (or shouldn’t) attend their session rather than one of the other available sessions going on at the same time. It always helps me narrow down my choices as I weigh different sessions.
  • PDD — The Professional Development Day is an annual conference hosted by the PMI Central Iowa Chapter for Project Management professionals.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of software testing conferences you can attend anywhere in the world, I recommend checking out this conference list by Chris Kenst.

Webinars

I register for a lot of webinars. Unfortunately, I don’t always get to join the live broadcast. However, I find that most webinars are recorded, with a link sent to those who subscribed but may not have been able to attend, or just want to enjoy the presentation again. There are many companies and organizations that host frequent webinars.

  • Association for Software Testing — You can find their recorded webinars on YouTube, as well as a number of other videos.
  • International Institute for Software Testing — You can find a list of past webinars on their website, as well as a list of upcoming webinars you can register to attend. You can find a number of other videos on YouTube.
  • QAI — You can find a list of recorded webinars and slides on their website.
  • Software Test Professionals — They provide a list of their past webinars, as well a a list of their upcoming webinars you can register to attend. You can also find their recorded webinars on YouTube.
  • Applitools — Applitools hosts a number of webinars and other resources on their website. You can also find their webinars and several other videos on YouTube.
  • Beaufort Fairmont — Founded by Paul Merrill, Beaufort Fairmont hosts a number of webinars on their website.
  • QASymphony — They host a number of webinars on their website, where you can view past webinars, and register for upcoming webinars. You can also find their recorded webinars on YouTube, as well as a number of other videos, including ones from the QualityJam conference they host every year.
  • RBCS — You can find a list of upcoming webinars on their website, as well as a list of previous webinars organized by topic. Their past webinars can be found on YouTube, along with a number of other videos.
  • SauceLabs — SauceLabs provides a list of past and upcoming webinars you can register to attend, as well as other resources on their website.

That’s just a short list of the webinar options available. I’m sure you can find more. I like to take notes during a webinar, so I think the part I like best about webinars is being able to get the recording and slides after the live broadcast. I can play the recording, pause, rewind, and capture all the notes I want, plus I can document in one place the details about the webinar, the speaker, links to the webinar follow-up, video, slides, blog posts, etc. I probably watch more webinars from the recording than I participate in live, but they end up being just one more thing to add to my “Watch Later” queue in YouTube.

Also, if you hadn’t gathered from the above list, YouTube is a great resource for testing videos of all kinds. You can learn about testing, learn new tools, watch webinars, conference videos, etc.

Social Media

If you’re following any of the leaders in the testing community closely, you’ll probably find them available through many of the options below.

  • Facebook — While I certainly share content on Facebook from the testing community, I don’t find this to be the most successful way to connect with other testing professionals.
  • GitHub — This isn’t strictly a “Social Media” platform, but GitHub has lots of uses beyond just serving as a version control platform. There are a lot of great repos and testing resources to be found on GitHub.
  • LinkedIn — LinkedIn is naturally a better place than Facebook to connect with other testing professionals, as it’s geared to a more professional audience.
  • Instagram — Instagram is a great place to check out photos from different testing events. I use Instagram mostly to browse photos from other people and organizations rather than to share my own content. Some people will share quotes and book titles to check out on Instagram, but such content is limited.
  • Pinterest — It’s easier to pin content such as links to blog posts and similar content on Pinterest than on Instagram, so it’s not surprising that this is a better resource for such things. Again, Pinterest probably isn’t the place to search for such content, but you can find it there, or add it yourself. It may be a great place to organize the content you find valuable.
  • Slack — This has quickly become my favorite messaging application. I use it extensively at work to communicate with colleagues, whether they’re co-located or remote. Slack teams and channels can also a great resource for discussing testing issues, following new blog posts, new podcast episodes, etc. There’s a GitHub repo dedicated to Tech Community Slack teams.
  • Twitter — Besides following leaders in the testing community, Twitter makes it easy to find out who they’re following, or even to create lists of people you should follow. Mike Lyles has created a number of such lists you should check out if you’re looking for good content.

There’s no end to the number of resources available to help you improve your testing and become a better tester. The type of resource is not important. Use whatever means you prefer. The most important thing to remember is…just get started.

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