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One ticket to Maastricht please! EuroSTAR 2014 Review

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It seems like a VERY long time ago that I was sitting in a cold, dark living room in Dundee writing my introductory blog post for TEST Huddle at 6AM.

It’s almost here!

Reading back over it I get such a sense of enthusiasm and fearlessness!  Prior to receiving the news that I was a Test Huddle Press Pass winner, I’d become pretty disillusioned with testing and gone back into my shell a little.  I’d only been in the area a short time but I found my ideas were not being taken on board and the archaic testing practices of old followed above all else. We’ve read a lot of stories where people go along with this, they’re the people who complain about about the work they’re doing and little did I know the Press Pass competition was the fork in the road for me.

On one hand, I could continue at my current role, maybe change some things with persistence, remain in relative comfort and also see Passenger play in Edinburgh on the 26th November. But maybe, I could win this competition, achieve my goal of attending EuroSTAR 2014, put myself out there and shake things up a bit.

It’s obvious which way I decided to go (sorry Passenger)….

How's that for a venue?

How’s that for a venue?

I had been feeling pretty anxious in the build up to the conference, I felt like I really had to battle to get there as work weren’t pleased with me wanting to take holidays short-notice and I had to cancel a number of engagements I previously said I’d attend. However, the night before the first day of the conference, walking past the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD), my decision became vindicated with one look at the CCD and I finished my journey that night with a broad smile on my face and a feeling of eager anticipation.

I have to say at this point, what a phenomenal venue! The location and aesthetics are second to none but beyond that the facilities were absolutely top class and staff at the CCD bent over backwards to offer assistance in any way they could. I’m sure for the speakers and programme chairs this helped put them at ease knowing everything would run like clockwork.

Tuesday

I think its fair to say I was absolutely blown away by the keynote speakers on Tuesday. Admittedly I’d no prior knowledge of Andy Stanford-Clark so I didn’t know what to expect from him. His talk on The Internet of Things set an extremely high bar for any of his future presentations I have the pleasure of watching! Andy is a true scientist, running experiments wherever he can to help him understand and optimise what previously was just guesswork.  Andy is a creative thinker, where people see problems, he sees an opportunity to improve things, to remove the problem entirely. Andy is a genius! My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to hear more of his fascinating experiments.

Rob Lambert on the other hand I knew a lot about due to finding the material on his blog very helpful in learning to become a good tester. Rob’s ability to speak in an engaging manner to every single person in the auditorium was incredible, a sign of a truly great speaker and I know Rob will only continue to rise in notoriety. His talk was filled with action points and takeaways for me as continuous integration is something I knew a lot about but hadn’t implemented on an enterprise level. I always expect a lot from Rob and he always delivers far and above what I was expecting.

 

Tuesday review with Nick Shaw from EuroSTAR Conferences on Vimeo.

Wednesday

It was an early start for Wednesday’s action packed schedule, I must admit by the end I was feeling a bit like the walking dead, that was until I was handed a ticket to the Awards Dinner at Croke Park!

Not only will the Awards Dinner go down as my highlight of the entire conference, it was one of the most enjoyable evenings of my life. To begin with there were reception drinks in the GAA Museum which was very impressive, an attraction in its own right. This was especially the case while strolling around the various exhibits with a pint of the black stuff in hand and the company of some thoroughly interesting people. We were then taken on a long walk to the function room, seeing the scale of Croke Park in front of me was breathtaking, I can’t imagine what it feels like to be a player performing in front of over 80,000 screaming fans. The evening went off without a hitch, superb food, gracious staff, exhilarating conversation and a pleasure to see the cream of the crop in testing receive their well-deserved awards.

Thursday

I was feeling the effects of great night out when I arrived early on Thursday morning but seeing some friendly faces from the night before and getting to spend time with the Test Lab team perked me right up. The Test Lab had all manner of puzzles available for testers to try their hand at, the enthusiasm of the Test Lab team was infectious and I think its placement at the heart of the Expo Hall will be commonplace going forward.

After a fascinating presentation on mobile testing from Dan Ashby and Nehir Yelkovan, I got the chance to enjoy some of the soapbox sessions on offer in the Expo Hall. It was certainly a highlight for me to hear Janet Gregory in this format attempt to distil her vast knowledge into such a small time frame but it worked amazingly well.

My final session of the conference was a memorable one as the Do-over session allowed me to see Declan O’Riordan give his views on application security testing. It was clear to see why Declan had been asked to repeat his session and therefore been voted as the best presentation at the conference, this was on top of his award for the best paper! Congratulations Declan on an inspiring job!

Final day review with Nick Shaw from EuroSTAR Conferences on Vimeo.

Since the conference…

My only regret is not making it to the Community Dinner! I must admit trying to take part in so much during the conference was exhausting but it was undoubtedly worth it and I’d strongly recommend to everyone attending in future to get your tickets early to social events!

Since EuroSTAR I have secured a new job as a Software Engineer in Test at an exciting and forward-thinking company.  I have continued some challenging conversations with friends I made at the conference and once again I feel invigorated about the challenges testing offers.

Right now, I’m heading over to TEST Huddle to share my EuroSTAR experience and I hope to hear about your experiences there too!

Thank you

Without EuroSTAR and the TEST Huddle team, I simply wouldn’t have been there and the positive things that have happened since then, well they may never have happened at all.  For some reason the TEST Huddle team saw potential in me and I owe them a great debt of gratitude for that.  Thank you for looking after me so well and offering non-stop encouragement.

I also have to thank my fellow Press Pass winners, these two worked tirelessly throughout the entire conference to keep everyone involved and entertained.  I hope some of their work ethic has rubbed off on me and the Press Pass experience was made much better by having Kim and Neil by my side.

Press-Pass-Team-e1417779901717
See you all in Maastricht next year!

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