“Dear Younger Me” by Shmuel Gershon

Welcome to the fourth in our series of open letters from members of the EuroSTAR Software Testing Community to their 28 year old selves.

2020 has been a year of note for so many different reasons. For the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference it is a celebration of 28 years of the testing community coming together in an inclusive space, to share knowledge, support each other and grow. Yes, this year, we will be online with our incredible community supporting us all the way – the show must go on! In celebration of our wonderful community and to mark our 28th year, we have invited many of those instrumental in the creation and ongoing development of EuroSTAR to write an open letter with words of advice for their 28 year old selves.

Each letter is different and contains what the author felt is most important to tell their 28 year old self. Our fourth letter is from Shmuel Gershon, the 2016 EuroSTAR Programme Chair and a popular speaker who is easy to approach and always willing to help. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did!


Hello you. The name is Shmuel, is that right?

Just kidding, I know who you are. It sounds like cheap sci-fi… but I am you, from the future. Impossible? You bet it is! Or at least, it is imposible in the year you are now. However, on my time, in 2020, The EuroSTAR team has come up the Extended-Unified-Remote-Online-Special-Time-Artificial-Receiver™ that allow us to communicate across time! You may be sceptic, but either believe this, or you’ll have to accept being a fictional younger version of ourselves in a make-up letter, and you don’t want to be fictional, do we?

Let me guess. You – I mean, we – are reading an article about software testing again, aren’t we? We probably are taking notes to add to a lecture that we want to pitch. You don’t get to lecture much now, but just wait a bit… It’ll come.

Moreover, I know we are enjoying the article. I also predict that we’ll end our reading session with a huge list of references added to the TO_READ list. Ha! there it is, the list. Some of it we’ve even read already in the past, we’re hilarious. Now listen: It is also possible that once we are done, you will be stressed and anxious and desperate, ruminating over the amount of knowledge and skills you lack. Don’t look at me like that, I know — I was there too.

So. About that. Everything is Ok! Stop worrying about our self-expectations… I know I can be harsh and demanding, but of all people, you should know you can just ignore me!
Don’t worry, we will learn and become better! To be sincere, we may never be as good as some of the people we admire… Yeah, I know we don’t care about that. What you worry about is if we’ll improve to the level we think we should be on. Hear me out: That is no reason for crying after reading a 10 years old paper by Cem Kaner. We are almost 30, we look ridiculous 😀 !

In a few years, you’ll learn why Judaism studies are done from a starting-point of happiness and satisfaction: When we face longing for skills and knowledge, despair and sadness act against their acquisition, while planning the way for their achievement elevates the spirit to make knowledge acquisition easily reachable.

I’m teaching you this early, so we can have fun earlier:
Take early action on what we learn (by teaching and applying), use the opportunities day-to-day gives us to practice: Get used to thinking about why and how we do the things we do.
Rejoice with the little steps and little improvements, these will build us into a better tester (a better person, too)!

Other than that, over here everything is great. The future is crazy, not because of flying cars, but because the world is full of surprises. We use masks, not because it is carnival but because it isn’t. Tests with automatic steps are ubiquitous, not because we’ve understood what it can give us, but because we haven’t. Work is now remote, not because we want, but because we must. We enjoy testing more than ever, not because it is easy, but because it is harder. Family life is fun, not because it is finally quiet, but because it is louder. Prepare yourself: The future you is nothing like what you expect.

Enough about me, let’s talk about us for a while.

You may expect now some warnings on errors to avoid and different things to try. But we saw the Back to the Future trilogy and we know better. It is safe to let life take its path untouched.

Still, some short advice may be of use:
– Make good use of the time with your parents – ask questions, take notes.
– The knees and joints that hurt now? Will keep hurting unless you take care of them.
– Family – come on! 90% of success is just being there, etc. You can do it!
– At this age you’re quitting the harmonica. Don’t stop, it’ll be a lot harder when you come back to it in 15 years.

Remember, we love you.


Ps> This bitcoin thing… we’ll be right thinking it is not an responsible investment, just a speculative one. Still, it will be big. Just letting us know… Why? No reason…

See the rest of the “Dear Younger Me” series.

About the Author

Shmuel Gershon

Shmuel Gershon is the EuroSTAR Conference Chair 2016. He has experience in both firmware and software testing; and also in coaching testers and helping friends. Today he works in Jerusalem testing sensor products with his team of Super-Heroes, and his experience includes working for big companies, small companies, and as freelancer — spanning the world from South America to Israel. He is convinced that the most significant factor in our quest for quality is people (not features or technology), and used to be a programmer but discovered that testing is twice the fun. Writes about software testing at http://testing.gershon.info and publishes the open-source “Rapid Reporter”, an exploratory testing note taking tool.
Find out more about @sgershon

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