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The 4 Phases of Project and Culture Shock

culture-shockBefore I moved over to the US, I did lots of research — how to get a driving license, how to quickly improve my credit score, what to call a pavement/lift/boot/bonnet, how to open a bank account, where the nearest supermarkets were, etc., etc.

One other thing I found on my research was something called Culture Shock, “a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture.” This seems to happen in 4 phases:

  1. Honeymoon – Everything seems new and exciting, with lots of possibilities.
  2. Negotiation – The initial excitement wears off and even the simplest task can prove hard and frustrating.
  3. Adjustment – The differences and changes have been taken onboard, and routines have been developed.
  4. Mastery – You are able to participate fully and comfortably in the new culture.

Having been here for 20 months, I’ve moved through the first two and am in the adjustment phase. Knowing that there were these phases made it easier to cope. Read more on The 4 Phases of Project and Culture Shock…

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3 Tips for Overcoming Shyness at Conferences

I recently attended the CAST testing conference in Madison, WI and was really glad that I went. While driving there I was nervous, as I am shy and an introvert — but I also know that a lot of the value you can get out of a conference is talking with the people there. I did not want to be this guy, sitting in a hotel room and missing out on the interactions with the other attendees.

So what did I do to make sure I got more from the conference than just listening to the speakers? Here are 3 tips:

1. Be Active Online

For introverts/shy people, the internet can be a much easier way of meeting people than having to go up and talk to them. Once you’ve made contacts online, then meeting them in person at a conference is easier. And if they happen to be an extrovert or more comfortable socially, they will often come up to you and start the conversation. At one session that I attended, I knew 21 out of the 26 people there through Twitter, and it was like meeting friends rather than a room full of strangers. Read more on 3 Tips for Overcoming Shyness at Conferences…

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Becoming a Software Testing Mentor for Per Scholas

Per Scholas Logo

I’ve not regretted my move into testing; it’s been fun and challenging and continues to be so. I’ve also received a lot of advice and encouragement from the test community, both online and offline. So when the opportunity arose to give something back, I took it.

Read more on Becoming a Software Testing Mentor for Per Scholas…

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4 Ways to Beat Post-Conference Information Overload


Last month I went to Madison, WI for the CAST 2103 test conference. It was a great conference at a cool venue with good topics and speakers and an audience from all around the world.

Now that I’m back with a head full of ideas and thoughts, how can I handle this information overload and make sure I get the most benefit from going? This is my plan: Read more on 4 Ways to Beat Post-Conference Information Overload…

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“What’s a Browser?” – Remembering the Non-Tech-Savvy User

“You work with computers, don’t you?”

That simple, innocent-enough question — when asked by a family member or friend — gives no hint about the trouble about to rain upon your head. You just know you’re going to spend the next few hours battling to get their computer to work. I was asked that question twice last week on a vacation to see family, and on both occasions I was able to help — and gain an insight into users and their behavior.

Booting? Safe Mode? What are those?

The first problem was malware installed on a PC that was causing two behaviors: either it would display a black screen with a white arrow cursor that would not move, or the computer would appear to be working but within a few minutes it would give a Blue Screen of Death.

Read more on “What’s a Browser?” – Remembering the Non-Tech-Savvy User…

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The Invisible Gorilla Is Smarter than You


Read the following question and remember the first answer that comes into your head: “How many animals did Moses take into the Ark?”

Did you think of pairs and were trying to work out a multiple of two, maybe trying to work out how many animal species there are? Or were you one of the few who knew this was a trick question and answered “zero,” as it was Noah and not Moses who had the Ark?

I’m currently reading three books which address problems like the one above where your mind can get fooled. They are The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, You Are Not So Smart, and Thinking Fast and Slow. I Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes two modes that our brains can have – System 1 and System 2 thinking.

  • System 1 operates automatically and quickly with little or no effort — for example, if you see a horrible picture, your face reacts and shows your disgust.
  • System 2 allocates attention to the mental activities that demand it — for example, if you need to, you can focus on one voice in a noisy room.

All very interesting, but what use is this to a tester, for example?

Lots of uses. Read more on The Invisible Gorilla Is Smarter than You…

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Lessons From the Center of the Pitch

Spring has finally arrived in Michigan. Flowers are blooming, trees are starting to look green, lakes have unfrozen, gas grills are being cleaned, and at the weekend there is the sound of lawnmowers — and whistles.

Yes, Spring also means it’s the start of the youth soccer season, so it was time to put on my newly-qualified Grade 8 badge and head off to the pitches.

I get a lot out of it. The kids need a ref to be able to play, so I get to help out. It keeps me fit (although it wouldn’t seem so when I hobble around the office early in the week after doing too many games at the weekend).

And I get to learn things that I can use in my job and life.

Read more on Lessons From the Center of the Pitch…

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What Does It Take To Work In…?

For a recent career fair, our marketing coordinator Lisa Tjapkes produced a hand-out detailing what a marketing career involved. Part of this handout listed 6 skills that a good marketer should have:

  1. Empathy: Understand your customers; see things from their perspective.
  2. Strong Writing Skills: Be clear, be concise, be interesting.
  3. An Analytical Mind: Carefully review results. Find patterns. See what isn’t there.
  4. Curiosity: Be fascinated by people — how they think, feel, and make decisions.
  5. Creativity: Find new ways to tall your story and reach your customers.
  6. Observation: Pay attention; learn from what other people are doing.

It was interesting to compare them to the skills and traits that a good tester should have. Read more on What Does It Take To Work In…?…

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How Ignorant Are You?


“He who knows best knows how little he knows.” - Thomas Jefferson

I’m not trying to be rude with the title of this blog post; it was inspired by reading a post about the 5 Orders of Ignorance:

  • You have 0 OI when you know something.
  • You have 1 OI when you know you don’t know something.
  • You have 2 OI when you are unaware of what you don’t know.
  • You have 3 OI when you don’t even have a way to figure out what you don’t know.
  • The final level of ignorance—meta ignorance (4OI)—is when you don’t know about the levels of ignorance

Now that you have read this post then you are no longer at level 4. You may thank me for this — or you may not, as life can be a lot easier living in ignorance.

Read more on How Ignorant Are You?…

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Looking Behind the Curtains at Wikipedia

Wikipedia LogoWho hasn’t heard of Wikipedia? Hands up?

I’d be very surprised if anyone hasn’t. So when I saw a tweet from Chris McMahon announcing a Wikipedia community test event I had to find out more.

He gave more details on his blog. It was a call for anyone interested in doing exploratory testing on Wikipedia:

This testing should be of interest not only to those who will eventually want to edit Wikipedia in their native language, but also to those interested in accessibility, internationalization and localization, maintainability and scalability as well.

Read more on Looking Behind the Curtains at Wikipedia…

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