The journey starts here…

Welcome to my new blog…

I’ve been testing for a while now. Some 12 years. Only in recent years have I felt the need to give something back to the testing community that for a while I felt disconnected from…and now is the time to make that desire a reality.

Anyone who knows me will understand why I have chosen the moniker The Test Doctor (@thetestdoctor on Twitter), but rather than filling your feeds with useless geekery, this blog and any posts from this twitter feed etc. will be entirely testing, IT and other related topics. 

I am currently a contract software tester (@drbconsulting) and my current client is a firm in Basingstoke, Hampshire in the UK. I work with a lot of great people, with a huge amount of knowledge and experience to share. It’s fast paced and growing, with a huge challenge for developers and testers alike. But because the team work so well, those challenges can be shared and reflected on in a very positive environment…something that was lacking earlier in my career.

In the last six months I have learnt more about software development, the testing challenges that face us as a community, and myself as a tester than I have in the last ten years. Too much to include in this initial post, but over time I hope to be able to share what I have learnt with the community.

I hope to write periodically over the next few weeks and months as time allows. Like all of us, I have a lot of family and personal commitments and outside interests. So anything I post will be largely dependent upon those factors getting priority.

Firstly a little bit about me as a person. 

I currently live in Frome, Somerset, not far from the city of Bath. I am originally from Burgess Hill, near Brighton in East Sussex. I have been married to my wife Rae for 8 years.

I run a Cub Scout pack in Frome, Somerset, and also I am Assistant District Commissioner for Cubs for the Frome, Wells and Shepton Mallet area. It’s a huge mental, emotional and physical challenge; but it teaches me new things about being a human being in a community of other humans every day. I have to work with adult leaders, other volunteers, parents and children to make sure they have great adventures.

I studied as a Primary School Teacher at Bath Spa University (yes, Bath has an ‘other place’ too) but during my final year decided that this particular vocation was not for me.

I started my IT career whilst working at the AOL/CompuServe call centre that was then in Bristol. Within the year I found myself testing screen pop and cased based reasoning tools whilst handling calls, and eventually a full time promotion to the Tools team, where I started on localising and testing a new CRM tool for the business.

Following this initial foray into testing, I worked for various companies such as Capita, and Northgate Public services. For anyone who is interested, my Linkedin profile can be found here:

I started contracting in 2010. The dual motivation of choosing my own clients and developing my own future challenges appealed to me. But partly because I felt somewhat adrift in my career, with what I perceived as a lack of focus and perhaps commitment. It had become a  means to an end, rather than a career in which I was interested in and wanted to develop.

In the last couple of years I have found a new impetus to learn more, develop myself as a tester, learn from other people in the software industry and the testing community as a whole. I may have been testing a while, but for a long time I had blinkers on…just getting the job done, looking for that next rung on the ladder so I could improve my lot. 

Learning new tools, techniques and processes is all very well. But unless you have some sort of personal framework or context in which these learnings can be utilised, they just become bullet points on a CV. Meaningless! 

Unless you can prove yourself as a competent, learning and developing member of the testing community, these skills are not worth the paper they are printed on. Sure, I have taken those courses we all debate about, and worry about their validity and use, but to be honest I don’t want to work for organisations where having letters after your name are a prerequisite to getting a job. I want to discuss things with my peers, develop great ideas, materials and resources to share with the community. 

In the last year I have been given a metaphorical and physical kick up the back side by attending just one or two events with my peers. Alongside that, I have worked within a couple of organisations recently where you really needed to raise my game in order to stay ahead of the testing challenge. 

I could reel off a list of influential people who have helped me back onto a new path where I feel happy to contribute to a vibrant and exciting community. But that would be name dropping. Those people I hope know what they mean to me. To them I say thank you. To the rest of you, I hope to meet you soon, learn from you, maybe help you learn something too.

I’ve got some great ideas in my head. I want to get them out there to share with you. If they are flawed, I want to know. If they need challenging, then throw them back at me. I look forward to meeting you!

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