Sunday 26 January 2014

About Copenhagen Context conference and how it went.

The short story about how it went:

It went just great! 

Well, for a not so short story :) I arrived to Copenhagen Thursday night, after 4 hours flight via Zurich and the travel went just fine. All flights were on time and I got the chance to see a nice sunset over the Alps.

I stayed at Hotel Wakeup Copenhagen, for an reasonable price, they had a room that was nice, small and clean, just the kind of hotel you need when you go to your room to sleep at night.

View from the room

Friday morning was cold and cloudy, with 0º outside, but as the hotel was just in front of the conference hall I managed to make it there in no time, this is the good part of planning trips while observing the weather forecast. 

The Tivoli Congress Center is a nice facility for such a meeting. They provided us a big room with good acoustics, a working projector, sound system and comfy chairs, good enough to be sitting all day in big round tables with enough space to walk around. On every break they provided coffee, juice, water, some candy and some fruits. If I had to tell if this was a good place, then I would have to ask, compared to what? and since I don't know that answer, I would say that the place was good enough. 

The conference consisted in 5 talks in one track, more than 1 hour for each, and a pause after every one, so we had time to listen and time to talk. Because the conference was set up in a short amount of time, they didn't go through the usual call for papers process, instead Morten called some of his friends and that's how he got the speakers lineup for the first conference. It's nice to have friends. 

I would say that we were about 50 people attending, mostly Danes, but also people from 9 other countries, not bad at all, for a conference, a site and a LinkedIn group that  Morten Hougaard managed to set up in no more than 2 months. 

It started with Michael Bolton, he told us about Context Driven Testing, how it started and what it stands for, and by the way Michael delivers the talk… well, His father was a priest, and as the apple does not fall far from the tree, while listening to his talk I got this warm feeling of fellowship you get when attending to liturgical events among other peers. A nice talk to start the conference, as Cartoon Tester once pointed out. 

Carsten Feilberg came next, with (his) RC Helicopter as an example for using heuristics. He told us what they are, where to find them, and how to use them, he provided some nice examples, made us test the Helicopter and what I got out of this talk is a curiosity about start experimenting with heuristics, after all, this is what testing is all about. 

Because this conference was in Denmark, next came Lunch and being a Spaniard I found that 12:00h is too early for having lunch and 30 minutes is too short time for a proper meal, so I was almost the last one leaving the dining room. 

Louise Perold, who came wall the way from South Africa told us about test planning, and she made us test… beers!

Test this!
Each table had 6 cups and 2 bottles of beer, and we had to deliver a test plan in about 10 minutes, and then compare with the testing plans that other tables created. Then Louise explained to us how was her test planning process, how was the structure and the iterations she used to have. She reminded us the power of heuristics so this is one idea I got back with me. 

The turn was to Huib Schoots, and he told us about his life, the different turnpoints he faced and how each one of them helped him become a great tester. It was the same talk he delivered in Eurostar, with some small changes, and at the end, he collected a big applause, and what did I get out of it… well, I already knew that I want to become a great tester, Huib explained how he managed to do so, and I saw some things that I am already doing, and some others that I could start… just wait and see. 

Last but not least, Henrik Emilsson who came from the Swedish forests explained how to communicate better the testing strategy, focusing on details and on the people this test strategy might be interesting. He made us work on putting real names on our test strategy communication plans, so instead of doing a generic void document (Ah, the mother of all testing strategy templates!) , you ended up having a text containing important information for specific persons. I got notes about things I will start doing. 

So, the conference ended in a very early time, and at 18:00h the plan was the obvious, to follow Michael Bolton and his mandolin to some Irish pub, where coincidentally musicians would gather and play traditional Irish tunes.

We all ended up at a place called Kennedy’s listening to the band, playing the coins game hosted by Stephen Blower and watching… the handball match!

Testers talking and playing.

The Eureka moment!
I’ve never before seen a handball match in a Irish Pub, but we were in Denmark, and that is what Danes do. 

Then a freezing walk to the hotel and a pair of flights next day did the end for this conference.

My grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air..
Was it worth… For the time and the cost, if this conference would happen in a city near my home like Madrid or Barcelona, I would have to get some hotel to sleep and some transportation to get there, going all the way to Copenhagen (in January) has been just a bit more expensive than that. 

And there is no Context Driven Testing conference happening in Madrid or Barcelona, so this one happens to be a close one! 

I liked the price of the conference, and no sponsors giving any talk, but the best part has been the people I met. There were testers, product managers, consulting people, developers, some knew about context driven testing and some came to learn about, some were teachers at the university, other working in financial business, on medical devices, on consulting companies, some I did met before and it was nice to have a talk again, some I was following at twitter, and some had lived in Valencia for a time, with many I had conversations about testing, continuous integration, agile and context driven testing, ISTQB and why bubbles are funny, Requirement gathering process and The spanish inquisition and how Hammerfall is such a great Swedish Power Metal band.

I missed the chance to get a t-shirt or a sticker, even if it would be optional and with a price,  those souvenirs are a nice thing to bring back to the office. My dev team use to go to Ruby conferences, and looking around our place you could tell a lot of places they have been to.
Maybe the next time ;)

And that's it. Since I forgot to fill the evaluation form, I hope this post helps a bit explaining why I liked this conference, and if you got this far reading this post, well, thank you so much! I hope to see you on the next conference, because if Morten and Anette were able to set this up, in less than two months, just wait and see what they come up with now that they have a full year until the next edition!

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