It’s a good thing Pete Walen was attending ATD again, because my live blogging efforts weren’t up to par this year. I posted two blogs so far, but they were neither live nor very detailed. It’s just that I didn’t attend a lot of talks this year. It seems that every year I go to less talks. Don’t assume that I do less learning that way! Instead, I spend my time pursuing certain goals. This year my goals were: pairing with someone, getting to know certain people better and explore making new connections. This is what makes the conference valuable and fun to me. So, did all these things happen?
Pairing with someone
I had no idea Llewellyn Falco was coming to this conference, but when I saw Maaret she told me that he was here too (he didn’t want to miss her again, that is so cute). On the third day of the conference I decided to ask if he had time to pair with me. I’m still a newbie programmer and the chance to learn from him was too good to pass up on. In the end, I think I managed to identify one root cause of why programming is so hard for me. I was thinking way too much in ‘code’ already. I was skipping the visualizing of the solution, the thinking process about the solution in my own native language (Dutch) before turning it into code. I was just cutting corners and that’s not working. Llewellyn showed me some techniques that I can try more at home. I think these two hours were the most valuable learning experience for me during the conference.
Getting to know certain people better
As it was already my fourth time at the Agile Testing Days I already ‘knew’ a lot of the regulars. But when do you really know someone?? I prefer to know a couple of people in depth over ‘knowing’ a lot of people in a shallow way. This year, I made it my mission to have more quality time with certain people. That had a logical consequence. I wouldn’t be able to talk in depth to some other people. In general, it’s not even possible to talk to everyone of course, but I made a choice to go for quality rather than quantity. I’m not going to discuss private conversations with others on this blog, but it’s safe to say that I had some really amazing conversations with a couple of folks. I am wholeheartedly calling them my friends now (you know who you are).
Explore making new connections
Did I not make any new connections at all then? Quite the contrary. I had some lovely encounters with people. Many of them were ‘first timers’ and it was great to hear their experience so far. Extra shout out to Roy, Lilit, Kevin, Iman! Great meeting you guys; and who knows, maybe we end up in Armenia next year.
- The keynote from Gojko surely got my feathers ruffling
- Beer especially crafted for conferences has gone mainstream
- You can go from testing to hip hop and back
- The pillows at the Dorint still SUCK. They are 2D pillows, nothing 3D about them. (I always bring my own)
- Why didn’t I bring an inflatable unicorn back home?! Oh, because it’s bigger than my balcony, that’s right.
- Seeing Jose 1 minute before I had to leave. But at least I saw him!
- A Christmas market just outside the hotel just for us…holy shit!
- The guy from London (hi Roy) liked beer that tasted like sewer (during Eddy’s and Bram’s “Beer Testing session”): WTF
- I learned what an Irish Goodbye is by seeing it demonstrated by an Irishman.
- Meike’s dog Hagrid is the most precious white fluffy creature ever.
- The Dutch are World Champion. In Testing!!!! We may suck at football, but at least we got this in the pocket. The Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters rule!
- I hope I wasn’t the only one who admired how the Brazilians danced during the party. They got them moves!
What is hard at this conference
In this conference, my personal struggle is always with ‘the fear of missing out’, especially if you follow everything on Twitter. I was seeing all that was going on and it even gave me some type of stress to think about what I was missing. I swear it took me like a day or two to make peace with that feeling and accept it for what it is. I had to think of my own personal goals and that it was okay to reach those and not more. There will always be more to learn, more people to know, more fun somewhere around the corner. But the conference is your personal journey and you decide how far you will take it.
As always, I made a list of the books that got mentioned in talks and conversations. People asked me to share the list.
Blake Snyder – Save the Cats. About how screenwriting works. This book was mentioned in a conversation about story telling
Stephen Covey – First Things First. That’s the author from “7 habits of highly effective people” and it was mentioned in a conversation about how to work more effectively
I was also asking people for more books about cognitive biases.
Christopher Chabris – The Invisible Gorilla. About how our minds don’t work the way we think they do.
David McRaney – You Are Not so Smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us and that’s okay…
David Levy (et al) – Tools of Critical Thinking
Timothy Ferriss – The Four Hour Work Week. Because we all secretly long to chill on an exotic island while the money is pouring in from all directions? Not really. But I had some conversations with people on how to work smarter for money so you can have more free time to do the things you really want, like distilling whisky for the conference (would someone please do that? We need to go beyond beer).
Davic McRaney (again) – You can beat your brain. Follow up book of You Are Not So Smart
Tetlock, Gardner – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. About making predictions, exciting!
David Halpern – Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference. About behavioral economics and making decisions.
Thanks for reading my ramblings again! And I hope to see you again soon.