Monday Musings

By June 24, 2018 Mondays 4 Comments

I can’t remember whether it was during a conversation, or a meeting, or somewhere else that I heard these words this week, but wherever and for whatever reason, they’ve had a powerful impact in a [probably] completely unintended way.

Refactor as soon as you notice you need to, otherwise you’ll probably forget later.

Sadly I don’t get as much opportunity to focus on code as I’d like. So I’m not going to apply that thinking to code. What I am going to try and do is write a quick blog as soon as something captures my attention or interest. Since if I don’t, I’ll probably forget or not get around to it later.

What that means for you dear reader, is hopefully more blog posts akin to Knowing Versus Doing, published earlier this week. Kind of random, in that they won’t necessarily be related to product or testing – but hopefully interesting still. And with any luck, over time some trends or themes will emerge that I can explore in more detail.

  • I very much enjoyed listening to Matthew Parker (AKA @TestingTackled) at the #MidsTest meetup last Wednesday, tweeting as much here. Communication skills has been a favourite topic of mine in the past, so I’ll take this opportunity to dredge up a few of my own thoughts on the subject, from the archives 🙂
  • After the speaking bits were over, I enjoyed a conversation with Matthew, Robert and others about the joys of contracting and bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to the table. Again, areas that I feel quite passionate about – but instead of bigging up my own writings on the same, I’ve seen a few of Mark Crowthers pieces around contracting recently and can heartily recommend you go check them out, e.g here: Contracting – Entrepreneurship
  • If you’re a regular, you’ll know that I talk about the books I’m reading, have read or plan on reading in the future a lot! ReadIng is a big part of my approach to self and career development, and life generally. So, I enjoyed reading this piece from Michael Simmons, and thought some of the tips were genuinely insightful. Particular takeaways for me were the ideas of treating books as experiments (though, I already do this I hadn’t framed it in quite this way before) and treating unfinished or I started books as a reminder of what I don’t know yet.
  • I needed to brush up on my approach to one-to-one’s recently and found this article quite helpful as a primer for openness and potential awkwardness: The Art of the Awkward 1:1
  • Sign-up for our Winning at Reporting webinar this Thursday if you have some time. Lead TestRail support engineer Marco Garcia and myself will be talking about all things reporting and trying to help folk get the best out of our built in functionality.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out via a comment or on the socials if anything resonates.

Cheers,
Simon

4 Comments

  • Robert Day says:

    I’ve just read the Michael Simmons piece, and he certainly describes my home environment! I do disagree with him over the role of fiction, though. In part, I wrote back to him:

    “I read about equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction. I also write myself. What I write is 100% non-fiction; I tried fiction many years ago and found I had no feel for writing it, for inventing stuff, situations or characters. But I found that I had an inverse ability to record events, to analyse, sift and distil complex events or narratives into an easier form, either as journalism or in a longer form.
    And fiction has an important role to play in this. It is the teaching tool which educated me in how to write. Professionally published fiction has been through a stringent process of review, through agents, (sometimes) publisher’s readers and finally editors. What makes it to the page in any novel or short story that makes it to print has been looked at by any number of people who will have offered opinions on what makes those words on that page sing. And that makes those works of fiction worth reading so that you can absorb style, usage, structure, flow and rhythm - in short, all the things that make any writing have impact on the reader. And impact is what you are looking for in any writing, otherwise it’s all just scribble.

    Fiction has another value. It exposes you to someone else’s mind, with all its experiences, knowledge and feelings. Some of those experiences or knowledge will be different to yours; and sometimes, it may be precisely those experiences or knowledge that fill in a gap in what you are doing at any one time. Almost every work of fiction requires some sort of grounding in the real world; even works of fantasy or science fiction need this (hint: the clue’s in the word ‘science’).”

    Having said that, I’m currently reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘A Time of Gifts’. At the age of 18 in 1933, Leigh Fermor dropped out of a private education and set out to walk from Hook of Holland to Constantinople. He took with him a change of clothing, a couple of books, a diary and a classical education (which he had acquired through osmosis rather than formal learning). He was passing through Germany and Austria at a time a great political upheaval, which he saw on the ground through the eyes of both a political innocent and someone who was talking to people at all levels of society. Later, he became notorious for his military activities in Crete, kidnapping a German general; like a number of British military men, he later turned to creative writing, and in fact only started the memoir of his journey in the 1970s.

    I’m enjoying the book, partly because it covers places I’ve been to and gives me a similar view to my own, but from some sixty years earlier. It’s certainly made me reconsider one of the writing projects I’ve done some notes towards and made me re-evaluate my approach and the pitch that I might make to promote that (as yet unwritten) book. What does this teach me about testing? Not much. What does it teach me about life, history and humanity? A lot.

    • Simon Knight says:

      Agree. I’ve learnt a lot and been inspired by a great many fiction books – classics and pulp varieties alike!

  • Robert Day says:

    I came to Leigh Fermor’s books (his whole journey took three books in all, the last of which he never finished) because I’d heard something about his life, probably on Radio 4; and something must’ve sunken in, because I was browsing through someone’s library catalogue on LibraryThing (www.librarything.com, which is like Goodreads but it’s based around a library-quality cataloguing app for the truly dedicated), and when I saw that they had Leigh Fermor’s books, it triggered the recollection that there was something in this that I remembered hearing about. I checked out aa couple of reviews and realised that this was a writer I needed to follow up. And I am so glad I did.

    And this is something that Michael Simmons talked about; not only reading, but reading about reading, because that way you cast your net wider than just your immediate concerns.

    • Simon Knight says:

      I pay close attention to the information I get about books from various sources. I get a lot of my ideas for which books to read from podcasts (Tim Ferriss & Recode Decode being two of my favourite sources) – but e.g. the thing that inspired me to finally start reading some Iain M. Banks novels was a post-Meetup discussion with you!

      Leigh Fermor sounds pretty interesting. Name noted for future reference!

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