0330 in the morning and the alarm goes off, with an unusual spring in my step I bounce out of bed and get ready for my adventurous two days at UKSTAR. The journey wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping with trains being cancelled meaning I had to drag my Mum out of bed so she could drive me to Cambridge. I make a tweet saying how my Mum has saved her 36 year old son and he was going to make it to UKSTAR no matter what. However I had mentioned my age in my tweet and my wife suddenly sends me a text informing that I was actually older than I thought I was doh!!!!
I finally get into London its five minutes to nine and Angie Jones is the first keynote speaker I was not going to miss this. Racing through Liverpool street station I make it just in time to see the start of her talk ‘The Reality of Testing in an Artificial World’. The inspirational talk helped me relax after a stressful journey and settle into things. If you have never heard her speak before I highly recommend it with a wealth of knowledge and experience she tells her story in such a way that you can just ride along with her learning with ease.
As somebody who does not function unless I have a cup of tea in my hand I was glad to find tea and coffee making facilities in plentiful supply. The expo was in full swing as we came out of the first keynote and crowds were gathering around each company to see what they had to offer the testing community. This is an excellent time to go grab a cup of tea and network maybe even stopping by the Huddle to see the numerous activities they have going on. This however is not me I am not a big crowd person and I was glad to find I could grab my tea (possibly more than one I really like my tea) and find a quite space to prepare myself for the next talk and not feel like an alien.
The rest of the morning was filled with a very informative deep dive in Fuzzing by Dan Billing. I am not a security enthusiast and prefer to let important security testing be done by more experienced and knowledgable people than me but Dan was able to explain fuzzing to us in a way even I could understand it. With helpful tools like OWASP ZAP and URLFUZZ to help I will be trying these techniques back at work. Dan also showed us a useful website called OWASP Juice Shop set up so you can practice security testing.
With more talks in the afternoon and with the three tracks you could dip in and out of being Automation, Modern Tester and Leadership there was definitely enough to keep you interested and learning with a great talk from Jonathon Wright about pushing testing right and future proofing it in the age of AI, AI being a major theme for this conference. With all the technical talks going on it was good to be able to go to listen to Gerie Owen who was talking about how we test wearable technology and the human experience that goes along with this. Mentioning personas during this talk made me think that maybe I should try this within my current testing strategy.
The last keynote of the day was delivered by Fiona Charles another excellent speaker who presented to us the possible dangers of the frill and joy of AI and making sure we ask the question ‘What could possible go wrong?’. The day was over but not for the sociable as it was drinks o’clock and people headed of to the pub for fun and games. By this point I was shattered having been up from early morning and with all this new information rattling around my head I headed back to the hotel. There was more to come tomorrow with two more keynotes and more excellent talks to listen to I wanted to get my head down. I wanted to make sure I was fully rested for another full day ahead of me especially as I was going to give my very first conference talk ahhhhhhh……
I wake up next morning bright and bushy tailed ready for the next adventure. The Huddle started its day off with a lean coffee event (why coffee, tea all the way!!!!) The first keynote being present by Bas Dijkstra asking us why we automate and should we automate and possible a more important question what and where should we automate? After more tea it was time for the talks with myself going on second I started to mentally prepare myself I had 45 minutes to make sure I was all set. Poof the time was gone I was on. The excellent and most generous Bill Matthews introduces me and I was off, it was a blur but I feel it was a successful in the fact I didn’t full flat on my face. This was my first talk luckily I had been supported by the speak easy group and mentored by Lina Wiberg which I am most grateful for. I even managed to work in some juggling so that is two things ticked off my bucket list public speaking and public juggling. If you would like to see my slides they are here but I warn you there isn’t much to them.
Recovering from my talk and being able to relax again I was able to enjoy more great talks with Rick Tracy being among them asking if we are crazy which I know I am. I have seen Rick talk a couple of times and he is always insightful and entertaining. The day was coming to and end with another excellent keynote by Amy Phillips on how we can help an organisation make changes. The committee which this year were Anne-Marie Charrett, Dan Billing and Bill Matthews all who did a fantastic job making sure they had excellent speakers (and me) the event was closed.
But wait there was one more deep dive, done by Baz Dijkstra showing us how he approachs setting up an automation framework which was very useful although everybody was struggling as it was getting to the end of the day but Baz did an excellent job keeping us all engaged and passing on his wealth of knowledge. That was that it was over and it was time to go home.
It was an excellent event which I was honoured to be a part off and I am now starting to look through on how I can improve my public speaking and looking for my next event to apply to. I am waiting for all the information that I have learnt to soak in in which may come more thoughts from me so please watch this space although I am finding it harder and harder to find the time as I have also decided that I need to pick up my Cognitive Project again and start developing it into a more adult project. I am very grateful for conferences like UKSTAR who allow people like me, who may never have spoken before, to find there voice.