I have nearly 1400 contacts on LinkedIn, a lot of them I’ve never spoken too. So I thought I would go on a 100 days of LinkedIn challenge to see if I could add value to every one in my network who I haven’t spoken to recently. I’m calling it #100DaysOfLinkedIn. I’m already up to day 9.
This is fundamentally a marketing campaign. I’m not too sure what success looks like for it yet but I’m already receiving positive feedback. It is more marketing than sales as I’m attempting to gauge who are good leads on my LinkedIn. I am trying to sell Michael Bolton’s Rapid Software Testing course in Sydney and Brisbane and I’ve sent a few people towards my communication for testers workshop. However getting sales is not the point of this campaign. Adding value is and brand awareness is.
Side note: maybe a way to measure engagement is to monitor the traffic to my blog and replies to the messages?
LinkedIn allows you to export your connections. I exported my connections into a spreadsheet and labelled this spreadsheet with the date of the export. I’ve added a few extra columns such as “Last Contacted” and “Notes”. Some of the notes I’ve collected so far is if the personal is a fan or a lead.
Have a message template
I’m reaching out with people with an a message template. However I’ll tweak this on a case by case basis and add/remove different things based on some details from their profile. Here is my basic template:
How are you? What are some of the challenges facing you these days?
I’m doing a #100DaysOfLinkedIn challenged where I try to add value to everyone in my network over 100 days. I’m up to day 9 so far.
If they are a tester or developer in Sydney or Brisbane, I’ll include a section about Michael Bolton too.
Re posting Job ads
While I do this challenge I will re post job ads that I see that I believe will add value to testers in Australia that I know. I will also share profiles of people who have posted that they are looking and if I know they are active in the community.
While doing this campaign I’m experimenting with the video updates for LinkedIn. I want to see if it’s a useful tool for engagement. I’ve only done one video post so far and it’s already been positive, but I think I will do weekly updates with the progress.
Can I help you with anything?
I finish the message with a call to action, “how can I help you?”. With this campaign I’m focusing on adding value so it’s important for me to drive home this point. Overall I don’t think this approach is too “salesy” and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. A few days in and I’m already seeing positive results.
I recently asked myself, “where would I like to take my career?”. This is a blog post on that reflection. From maintaining tech skills to improving my coaching. Here are the things that are important to me.
Keeping tech skills up to date
I’ve been doing software testing now for over 7 years and even though I come from a Computer Science and Engineering background, I’m finding people too easily put me in the box of “non technical manual tester” based on my previous roles. If I do not work hard at maintaining my tech credibility I see a risk that I will be stuck with the “non technical” label for the foreseeable future. I also don’t have the self confidence in my skills or interest to learn how to build automation frameworks in from the ground up. So how am I maintaining this skill? I’m working towards the following:
I’ve already spoken at conferences about my example poo tracking wearable app to talk about ideas like privacy by design. I haven’t even built the app yet and I’m using it to teach people. I’m interested in teaching myself mobile app development and how to build basic API’s. I even have someone who’s offered to help build this. Eventually I’d like to use this app to help teach people about different elements of testing.
Attending developer conferences
I’ve always enjoyed attending dev focused conferences. I always learn more compared to software testing focused conferences because it is out of my domain of expertise. I will continue to prioritise these conferences over software testing conferences this year.
Any new role that I start has to help me with maintaining my tech skills first and foremost. This is number one priority I will look at when assessing new roles.
Improve my Teaching/Coaching
I have always loved teaching. I was the kid in school that all my friends asked for help with maths questions. I’ve been tutoring my peers for as long as I remember. I’ve had my tutoring side business for almost as long as I’ve been testing. If teaching wasn’t see as a bit of a dead end low respected job, I would have studied it at uni. I do this stuff for free, that’s how much I love doing this. Being a Quality Coach at Campaign Monitor showed me that there is demand for people to teach software testing skills. In a few years I’d love to be running my company where teaching technical testing skills is my focus. I’ve been running robotics workshops for kids since my uni days. Any job that allows me to practice on the company dollar is a plus in my mind.
Speaking at Conferences
I’ve spoken at 14 tech conferences in the last 3 years. I enjoy getting up on stage. Any role that encourages me to do more of this is awesome in my books. It relates to the enjoying teaching, however getting up on stage is a little different to tutoring/coaching a person one on one. There is an element of entertainment with getting up on stage. The putting on a persona and pretending to be something more that what you feel inside.
All the data
In all of my previous roles, I’ve always enjoyed doing a deep dive into data analytics. From creating dashboard for event tracking testing to helping product understand how our customers were using our apps. I enjoy it all. I’m considering doing a Masters in Statistics in a few years when I’m more on top of my finances.
A bit of job stability
I went the motions of job hunting 3 times last year. I do not want to do this again and again. Also meeting new people is mentally draining. A bit of stability with my work environment would be awesome. I’m leaning towards a full time position, though I hadn’t had much luck with those last year.
Have a good culture
I care deeply about having a good social connection with the team I’m working with. I need to feel like I can bring an authentic version of myself to work. That means being vulnerable enough to talk about my struggles with depression and to be comfortable bring my quirkiness to work. It comes down to psychological safety.
I’m not solely motivated by money but having a consistent budget compared to my previous role is important for my financial security. I do feel like I’m getting at the expensive end for being a software tester and I can’t even compete with off shore testers in regard to pricing.
Practising a bit of sales and marketing
I struggle with selling testing as a craft where you want skilled people doing it for you. I’m glad I’ve never had to pitch my skills to CEO’s before getting hired as a tester. Someone else has already been convinced of the value testers bring. However with shrinking test teams I think the testers that will thrive in the future will have their pitch just perfect. Any testers who knows how they add value to others and remains relevant probably won’t struggle as much as those testers who don’t. I’m practising marketing through things like my blog and running Sydney Testers. Getting up on stage is related to marketing too. I’m also going to right a book this year as a marketing exercise.
I’m not interested in
Management; this feels like a clear way to let you tech skills go rusty and it’s becoming harder for managers to promote themselves as relevant in today’s agile/self driving teams.
Automation testing; if I had confidence in my developer skills, I’d be building products NOT building frameworks. It’s rare that I find some who can clearly articulate why they want automation in a way that really drives me towards it. It feels over emphasised in today’s tech crazy market place. I’ll happily pair with a developer to help drive this but I cannot sit in a corner and motivate myself to work on it when there are some many other fascinating elements of the product to learn about. Like accessibility or security.
What are you looking for in your career? Do you have a career coach to help you move in the right direction?
You should watch this TED talk by Hans back in 2007:
The 10 Dramatic Instances
Hans goes through 10 biases that cause us to over dramatise the world we live in. he kicks off the book with a questionnaire that helps highlight the incorrect world view we all hold in our heads. Alot of these instinct feed into our own internal fears and make them even louder. E.G. the fear of a rapidly changing tech scene that we can’t keep up with.
Population growth will not explode
It is already starting to even out. The upper estimate now is around 11 billion people by 2100. I really like this visualisation by Hans:
2018 has come and gone. You know what, overall it’s been a pretty shit year for me but the goal of this blog post is to take a moment to practice gratefulness and to reflect.
The crappy bits
I started 2018 not being able to walk because I broke my ankle in December 2017 and couldn’t walk for 12 weeks. I was also starting a new job. 2018 saw me go through a relapse of depression because of broken leg blues and I went through 2 jobs. The first one wasn’t the right fit and the second one had cash flow problems. But still, these were unplanned events that made me feel like failure.
However that is enough moping about. What else did I achieve in 2018?
I spoke at the Selenium Conf in India in July. This was pretty cool. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you about cultural differences, it’s really worth experiencing some of these things yourself. I had never been to India before so that was exciting.
I spoke at a few more in Aus (Agile Australia, and Australian Testing days), you can see all of my recorded presentations here. I also attended a few offering my sketch noting services. I enjoyed being able to attend these conferences and add some value back.
Getting around on wheels made me appreciate public transport here in Sydney. Sure it’s not 100% perfect, but it’s definitely better than New York. Watch Zach Anner on his quest for the rainbow bagel using the New York public transport:
Thank you to every one who’s been involved with Sydney Testers. What a year it’s been for meetup groups. In this blog I’m going to look ahead to reflect on what we could achieve for 2019 but first here’s a recap of what we’ve done for Sydney Testers in 2018;
13 meetup events
7 dice game sessions
5 social events
4 testing in the pub discussion groups
4 CV clinic sessions
2 Lean Coffees
2 Cross promotional events
1 main meetup each month
We will continue to aim for 1 big meetup event a month. I’m going to experiment with more discussion groups and more 3 x 20 minute talks per 1 meetup to help keep things fresh. Do you have a 20 minute talk proposal? Submit your proposal here.
Getting more people involved
I’d love to see things like the discussion groups, dice game sessions and lean coffees run in other parts of Sydney. These event don’t take much to organise and don’t require a budget because they are often “pay your own way”. I can mentor anyone in how to run these events too. I’d love to see some of these events in Parramatta, Macquarie and North Sydney. You don’t need to run these events every month. Once every 2-3 months would be fine. If you are interested, reach out to me via email@example.com .
See this blog about Sydney Testers and money, we hope to raise more funds for events and to continue paying for incidentals (like meetup fees). Feel like sponsoring or hosting an event? Please reach out to me.
At some point I will naturally step down from leading Sydney Testers. I might do this in 2020. Do you want to help out? I can help mentor anyone in how to run events for Sydney Testers if you are interested. We may even have an election at the end of 2019 to elect new members?
Please fill in this survey if you’d like to help drive the future of Sydney Testers. We really appreciate any feedback you may have.
Ahh Tasmania, my home state. I grew up in the Hobart region. I moved to Sydney 5 years ago but I make sure to get back to the state on a regular basis. This time I took my partner for their first trip to Tassie. We were mostly visiting family for Christmas but we managed to sneak in a bit of a road trip and this blog is a reflection on that.
Sunday the 23rd
We arrived late Saturday evening so our roadtriping starts on the Sunday. My parents live in Dodges Ferry, it’s a beautiful beach town about 20 minutes drive from the airport.
We start our morning heading out to Cambridge park to buy an auxiliary cable for my parents car and to buy a warm jacket as my partner had forgotten to pack one and the night we landed was a little fresh. We were thinking of making our way down to Port Arthur but we ended up making a detour to Richmond instead.
Richmond is home to the oldest still standing bridge in Australia. It’s a small historic town with an old school lolly shop and is pleasant to walk around. The drive to Richmond is through the coal valley wine region, so if you like wine it’s also a nice place to check out.
We then went for a drive into Hobart to get some bbq supplies for Christmas. I wanted to try and do a Brisket for Christmas as my dad had recently gotten himself a coal BBQ. After the bbq trip we drove up to Mount Wellington to check out the view.
On the way down from the Mountain we ducked into the historic Cascade brewery for a beer. Unfortunately we found out after the beer that we couldn’t go on the next tour because we’d had something to drink.
That evening we stay at my sister’s place to hang out with her and her fur babies. We also spend the evening playing Sushi go Party; a fun party game where the goal is to build the tastiest meal.
Monday the 24th
We checked out the Huon Valley this day. It started with a trip to the Margate train; there’s a delightful candy store in one of the carriages there. There was also an antique store which we walked through.
We then went to my Grand father’s for a BBQ lunch. He lives in Kingston. We got chatting about motorbikes and had a seat on his.
Then we drove out through Huonville. We stopped off at Willie’s cider shed and picked up some fresh cherries from the green shed. There are tons of little cideries in the Huon Valley. It is the origin of the Apple Isle after all.
We then made our way out to the Tahune Airwalk. We had a go on the flying fox over the river and went up to the cantilever for a walk.
On the way back we drove the scenic route through Cygnet, Verona Sands and Woodbridge. There’s a very fancy fine dining restaurant in Woodbridge called Peppermint Bay Hotel. You can get a cruise from Hobart out there too.
On the way back we stopped for Fish and Chips at Flippers in the Hobart Wharf. We wanted to go check out Hastings Caves and thermal hot springs on this day too but didn’t have time to squeeze it in ☹️.
Brisket for Christmas
I tested out my Dad’s coal BBQ for Christmas. On Christmas Eve I started the smoke for it. After 1.5 hours on the bbq the brisket was way too hot. It was going to be a charcoal brick the next day if I didn’t do something about it. Dad’s bbq had too much airflow coming through it for me to get a nice slow & low heat for smoking. I ended up taking the brisket off the BBQ, wrapping it in aluminium foil with a big chunk of butter and placing it in the slow cooker overnight in a small bath of water. The Brisket was saved. Was it a #ChristmasMiracle?
Wednesday the 26th
Now that Christmas was done and dusted we could start the big part of our roadtrip. Tuesday involved driving up to Frecinet National Park and checking out the Wine Glass bay walk. There was a surprising number of people here attempting to take selfies.
We then made the rest of the way to the Bay of fires. On the way we ducked into the IronHouse Brewery to pick up a beer for the evening. We stayed in a little farmstead Airbnb right in the Bays of Fire.
Thursday the 27th
This day started with the amazing east coast drive to Launceston through places like Scottsdale and Derby. The driving through this part of Tassie is just awesome (especially if you like windy roads that snake their way up and down mountain sides).
When we got to Launceston we checked out Penny Royal; a historic site with cliff side adventures, Boags Brewery, the Cataract Gorge and we were pleasantly surprised with the craft beer selection at Saint John’s craft beer bar for dinner. We stayed in a beautiful tiny house with a loft bed inside some public gardens. It was pretty cool but my partner hit their head on the roof a few times getting in and out of the loft bed.
Friday the 28th
Before heading back to Hobart, we made a visit out to Langdale Farm for a quick tour. I wanted to meet Fiona Stocker who’s recently written a book on the slow life living on a Farm in Launceston. We received a tour of the farm, geeked over smoker BBQ’s and exchanged some home brew beer for hand made bacon. You can even stay here through their Airbnb if you like.
On a way down to Hobart, we checked out a vineyard in the Tamar Valley to get a present for my Partner’s parents and ducked into the Ross village Bakery for lunch. Did you know the Ross bakery is rumoured to be the inspiration for the bakery in Kiki’s delivery service (a studio Ghibli animation). FAIR WARNING; This place gets very busy, especially if a tourist bus has just stopped off near by.
Craft beer in Hobart
Thursday evening saw us enjoying our fair share of craft beer in the Hobart area. We started with a schooner in a bus at preachers;
We started this day by having a quick stroll through the Salamanca Markets then getting the ferry out to the Mona museum. We enjoyed a fine selection of moo brew beer and a nice lunch in the new restaurant extension.
We finished the day by playing some board games in the New Sydney Hotel. One of my old favourite locals before craft beer was everywhere.
That concludes our trip to Tassie this time. There still were a few things we missed. We didn’t do any of the west coast (Cradle Mountain) and we skipped on Bruny Island. So there’s plenty more to come back to.
I’m binge watching youtube video’s, as I do when I’m doing nothing on the weekend and I stumble on this TED talk on co-housing:
This got me thinking of all of the different types of houses I’ve lived in over the years and I’d thought I share my stories and experiences with them.
My personal values are (I can actually use the mnemonic CASE to remember them);
Experiences over things
Living in sharehousing/cohousing actually aligns with my all of my core values in some way.
Student Housing in Sweden
I lived in Sweden as an exchange student for a year between 2009-2010. I lived in a corridor in a student housing complex. Each corridor had 13 separate bedroom & bathroom units and a central kitchen/lounge room that was shared amongst the 13 corridor tenants. Each floor had 2 corridors and most buildings 4 levels.
This student complex had a building for every letter of the alphabet. There was a communial laundry for every few buildings in the basement. The gym was in building A:
I lived in a Swedish corridor that only had 2 international student rooms. I’m really grateful for this mix because another corridor in our building was all international students. In my mind this was close to pretty much ideal living situations for a student. I had never felt this socially connected before. If there wasn’t a party happening somewhere in Delphi there was another student complex up the road that someone else knew where a party was happening.
Rent for this accommodation equated to about $125 AUD a week and included nearly everything. It was very reasonable and within my means being on government payments even though I didn’t receive rent assistance. I was getting around $375 AUD every two weeks from study allowance. My only extra bill was internet which was crazy cheap and fast (roughly $10 AUD per month for a basic 200GB package that had fast fibre speeds)
The only drawback I experienced in this situation was because I was only there for a year, I couldn’t personalise my space as much as my local Swedish neighbours could.
Variety of share houses
I’ve lived in a variety of share houses since then. While finishing uni I lived in around 5 different situations. Rents were between $60 AUD to $130 per week. I lived with a lady from Bangladesh and her two kids in a tiny apartment in Sandy Bay, in a old 3 story brick house in Glebe, an out the back granny flat in Glenorchy and a huge old house in Taroona.
Taroona was my cheapest share house but they came with some big problems. The house it self was huge. It was a two storey 3 bedroom house with a second loungeroom downstairs. We converted the downstairs loungeroom into a 4th bedroom. The total rent for the house was $270 per week. We had split the rent to between $60 to $80 per week per room. Only thing is the house came with a troll.
The troll of Taroona
There was a granny flat underneath half the house and it was occupied by a single guy. He was the troll in our house. He would bang on our floor when when we were being “too loud”, fill our house with the stink of weed, have random burnoffs in the back yard, have loud aggressive arguments with his ex misses about shared custody of their kid. He made living in this house very hard.
Another drawback to this place was one of my house mates was struggling with rent. Another housemate would vouch for him but he kept getting further and further behind. I ended up leaving that house with this person owing me over $1000 in food, rent and shared bills. I’ve never seen any of this money and I have never spoken to this person since then.
Communal Housing in Bland Street, Ashfield
Since moving to Sydney at the start of 2014 I’ve lived in about 9 different places. I haven’t had a lot of stability in my living arrangements. One of the more interesting places has become a old Victorian era town house converted into a communal community house in Ashfield, also known as Bland St. This house had around 11 bedrooms and 20-ish residents.
Sense of Community
I love the sense of community in this situation. I would often cook communal meals and had gardening and home brewing projects with a lot of the residents. I baked so many brownies. The average demographic was between 18-25 so I was a bit on the older side and most people were working holiday visa types. The house is always changing it’s personality.
Share rooms in Sydney
In Bland St most rooms were shared 2 person (usually strangers) per room. Sydney is ripe with this type of arrangement because rent is so dam expensive. I was paying between $150-$225 (ish) per week depending on the room arrangements and location. I’ve lived in this type of situation in Darlinghurst, China Town, Pyrmont and Ashfield.
The main drawback to co-sharing a room is the disrupted sleep. My depression gets when I don’t get enough sleep. The young vibe of Bland Street meant I felt like I drank too much alcohol, I still feel that now but at least I’ve reduced the social drinking urge.
Co Housing in the future?
It seems that co-housing in Sydney is starting to open up. For example apparently we opened our first co-housing in September this year. Only thing is, the rent for this is incredible expensive ($525 per week). I currently pay $300 per week for a my own room in a 2 bedroom apartment in Wollstonecraft. It’s a stone throws away from the train station. $350 is my maximum budget that I’m willing to spend on renting in Sydney.
I have an obsession with tiny houses. I have a loft bed in my bedroom. it’s pretty cool. I love the idea of tiny housing and being efficient with space. Small housing also has less environmental impacts, requires less resources to maintain and all that stuff. It’s been really nice to furnish my own room with second hand furniture and to experiment with space saving ideas.
My ideal living arrangements
Is probably a share house communal living arrangement. I would love to live in something like I did in Sweden where I can furnish my own space but partake in communal cooking. I’d love to live in a place with an easy to access community garden. It’ll probably be apartment based if I was in a city like Sydney or maybe wooden cabins based if I had my own land in Tasmania. I want something that’s nicely designed as opposed the regular cheap as possible option often seen here in Sydney.
Last week I attended the YOW! 2018 Sydney Conference. I enjoyed the experience. I was able to host a track on the Friday, meet some awesome speakers and had taken some awesome sketch notes. Here are some selfies with the speakers as I gave them their sketch notes:
All this “New technology” we have today is facilitated by improving hardware.
Breaking Codes, Designing Jets and Building teams by Randy Shoup
This talk was about how diversity, purpose and organisational culture can help teams achieve great things using examples from the code breakers of world war II, Skunk works jet building projects and Xerox Park. Randy also gave this other talk at YOW on engineering yourself:
Cloud Performance and root cause Analyst at Netflix by Brendan Gregg
This talk was a summary of all of the different tools used when doing a deep dive investigation of performance of the many micro services that Netflix uses. Similar vein to this talk:
Cloud, Containers & Kubernetes by Bridget Kromhout
Bridget had once spoken at 30 conferences in one year. Now she averages a more reasonable 2 per month on average. Containers will not fix your broken culture is an interesting follow up blog to read. It was along a similar vein of this talk:
Events and Commands for Asynchronous Microservices by Chris Richardson
Future of High Speed Transportation by Anita Sangupta
No Code by Advi Grimm
Shaving the golden Yak by Jessica Kerr
Jessica also gave a keynote on the overlap of opera and programming
The problem with pre-aggregated metrics by Christine Yen
Check out this interview with Christine Yen:
Top ten security flaws by Gary McGraw
Similar in vein to this video:
YOW! was a lot of fun with many highly regarded international speakers who write the books on these things. There were themes of an old analogy is seen as “new” (opera and programming, 1968, and breaking codes). There’s many new tools out there to keep an eye on in the near future.
It’s only the third time this year I find myself job hunting (again). It was only back in June I found myself going through a break up from Campaign Monitor and in July I was starting a new role with a start up called Insight Timer that built a meditation app. I was just made redundant on Monday. I guess that’s #StartUpLife for you. Software Testers are expensive. I’m still fascinated that the CTO managed to convince the team they needed a software tester in the first place, even if it was just for 5 months. Redundancy is just another day in tech right?
I still want to do testing
This time last year I was thinking about becoming an Android Developer or a Product Manager. It seemed like the only way to progress my testing career was with Automation Testing or Management and I was not looking forward to any of those options. Over this year I have rediscovered my passion for testing and teaching. I want to combine the two. In a few years time I want to be running my own company where the focus is teaching testing skills. I’m not there yet but I’ve now got something I want to work towards. I’ll be looking for a position that has some strategic alignment with this goal. You can access an updated CV in PDF format here or as a Google Doc here. I’m hands on and very technical when it comes to my testing.
The goals I’ve set myself for next year do align with working towards my own company. I’d like to launch a wearable app, help my Nan with her digital marketing and continue to look after my health. You can read more about at at this blog post for my 2019 goals. Maybe I should add a goal, “Keep a job for 12 months?” 😭