PML#004 - Going to Space Camp

TL;DR - Finally able to share news about the Secret Thing. Apart from that, a short week where I've constantly been playing catch-up 🏃🏻‍♂️

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I'm not sure where the time has gone this week. It's probably because I had a shorter week than usual, as I had Monday off due to family visiting, which means that it's felt like I've spent each morning trying to catch-up on things that I may have missed from the previous day. But also, some of the time has disappeared into interesting places, and I can finally speak about what some of those places are!

Last week's goals: 3/4 completed

  • ☑️ Attend the Testers' Hangout. I'm giving myself a tick, as I managed to squeeze in a 20-minute slot on Friday to join the testers' Google Hangouts chat. There was just one small problem - nobody else was there! Nevertheless, it was good practice to help me get into a habit, I clearly need to learn when people are most likely to drop in.

  • ☑️ Collect my son from nursery on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I'm delighted to have completed this one, although it was harder than it could have been. It involved prioritising my family over a first team meeting with my new boss; which, of course, was the correct thing to do, but I had bucketfuls of guilt about it. (We've got a 1-on-1 catch-up today, and I plan to get maximum value out of it.)

  • ☑️ Complete 50% of the first draft of Secret Unannounced Thing. It's not unannounced any more! I'm going to be co-hosting a Postman Space Camp session, titled Continuous Quality with Postman, on September 22nd. Much more to follow in a moment, but suffice to say, I'm having to hand-craft some learning resources for the session, and I'm pretty sure that I'm at least half-way through this (though it's hard to say until I'm 100% complete, at which point I can look back and work out where the halfway point was!)

  • Have a rational discussion about team communication. Not only have things not really got any better here, but I haven't really been able to make any in-roads into finding out how to make improvements. I've tried being open - for instance, asking people for their preferred format to receive feedback about work that I've been testing - but I'm still experiencing problems in getting responses to my questions, sometimes in excess of a day. It's not a sustainable situation, but I'm hopeful of changes to come, as you'll see in next week's goals.

The week in detail

There's one big thing that I want to talk about, and that's the work that I'm doing for my upcoming Postman Space Camp session. I very quickly realised that there's a lot more planning for one of these than I perhaps gave people credit for! It's a bit different to the usual weekly livestreams (which are, by definition, a bit more free-form and chaotic); and my session, in particular, is a different to typical Postman webinars. Normally, they're pitched as "101" sessions, i.e. for complete beginners who need to be shown every last detail. But I'm going to be running a so-called "102", a next-level session aimed at intermediate users. In other words: for testers who are perhaps already using Postman every day, but are perhaps only exercising a small percentage of the product features that are available to them.

IT'S HAPPENING

As with most Postman demos, there's going to be a Postman collection (the name given to a container of often-folderised requests within the Postman architecture) which is going to be full of pre-built examples that we'll walk through during the demo, some of which we may extend upon. There'll also be a few morsels that we might not get time to cover in the session, but where there'll be documentation provided for those who want to run further in their own time.

There've been some challenges with selecting which application we're going to test against (we've gone back and forth on which one to use; I've committed to one now, but it's relatively trivial to make the same exercises work against a different site, if we change our minds again) but, as I'll mention in my goals for next week, I'm approaching the point where the initial structure of the collection will be 100% completed. After that, the focus will shift to making sure the documentation is up-to-scratch (if you look at the existing Postman Space Camp collections, you'll see that they're extremely polished).

One of the most rewarding things about creating a Postman training course within Postman is one that I spoke about last week: dogfooding. Essentially, rather than being "just" a tester, I'm trying to use our tooling to accomplish my own business goal, just like our end-users are trying to do. This means that it's beneficial to highlight when I'm encountering problems, or things which are harder than they might need to be, as real users will undoubtedly be experiencing these issues too.

My goals for next week

I'm only working for the first three days of next week, as we're welcoming a friend to come and stay with us in the latter part of the week, so I'm opting for a still-relatively-optimistic three tasks to get done by next weekend.

  • Attend the Testers' Hangout. Yes, I feel bad reserving one of my precious three objective slots for "click a Google Hangout link", but until it becomes a habit, I need to force myself to make it happen!

  • Complete the first draft of my Space Camp session outline. I've got a catch-up session with Joyce on Wednesday night, for a first dry-run of what I've put together. At this point, the goal is to evaluate whether I'm trying to squeeze too much stuff into a one-hour session (the answer is almost certainly "yes", because we want to create room for Joyce and I to have discussions, and to solicit questions from attendees). Once the scope is agreed, I can begin to put the finishing touches, such as including script comments and documentation for those who are discovering the resources after the session; but that'll be a goal for the week after next.

  • Have a rational discussion about team communication. This is also a rollover from last week, although there'll be a few ways in which it's more likely to happen. Firstly, I've got an "end of month one" catch-up session with one of our HR representatives, which is a good platform for opening up about some of this stuff. Plus, my onboarding buddy (Danny; you may have heard of him) is back from his holidays, so we're bound to have an extended chat about how things have been going. Whether I'll be able to make any improvements in the three days that I've got, we'll see.

Because of the aforementioned hospitality, next week's update probably won't arrive until Saturday night; I'm sure you'll all survive an extra day without hearing my updates 🤣