Judging the Software Testing World Cup Preliminaries for Europe – Part 1

Oh what a week…

But let’s start at the beginning. In the evening of May 11th I was reading my Twitter timeline and found the tweet from Huib Schoots that the team of the STWC is looking for judges for the European preliminaries. In a sudden reaction I said to myself, sure why not. Let’s see if I even get accepted. I mean, have you seen that list of judges for the other continents… a lot of great names.
20 minutes later came the answer to send my email address to Huib per DM, and off it went.

OK, now my brain started working. What have I done. What am I even supposed to do as a judge; I mean in detail. So I started investigating, when is the event, what are the rules, and so on. At the end of the week I had access to Google groups, was able to read the test reports of Oceania and North America, and I got most of my questions answered. My expectations became more detailed.

Then the blogs from Kim Engel and Ale Moreira about their experiences came on. And now I had the impression that my expectations where at least heading in the right direction. Only difference, they judged areas with not nearly the 250 teams like Europe or Asia. So the tension got a bit bigger, because the team of judges was still rather small. But we grew to 10 (or is it now 11) judges until the event and even a strategy to get the judging for Asia and Europe conquered was thought of.

The date was set to June 13th. And then the deadlines, business and private appointments came in. Project deadline for one customer got set also to June 13th and production support for another two customers was high on the calender. June 14th was set the date to fell the tree in our neighbors garden, which for me as a hobby wood turner meant, a lot of wood to take care of this and the next days. We even had to reschedule our weekly grocery shopping to get everything done.

The week came closer, so let the disasters begin. My vacation in the week after the event was cancelled. The Asia preliminaries, one week before Europe, got cancelled and rescheduled after the SUT went down after about 1 hour. At work, the one project deadline got extended for several days, and the production support became a nightmare. Then my test environment database server broke down, again, for over two days. Yes, dear Asia contestants, that can also happen in real life.
My father in law, who was the guy to fell the tree, had to tell us on Monday that he had another appointment on Saturday and couldn’t help then. So he started cutting that tree alone on Tuesday, instead of planned 4 people helping him, only my wife was there to help. And it was the hottest day of 2014 so far. So when I came home, again late, there was a neatly chopped down tree next doors. And the wood began to crack due to the heat. So I started carrying the best pieces to my workshop and started sawing it. Now they wait for getting pre-turned, but because evenings at work got later and later, no chance yet.

Then Friday 13th was finally there. I had blocked my calendar from 5pm on and got a bit nervous. Some emails from the judges came around to get a bit more prepared for the event. But still no access to HP Agile Manager, and no idea or even clue of the SUT. Maik mentioned on Twitter on Thursday, that we will finally get some mobile focus in the contest, but no more hints. By noon on Friday I asked for my still not set up account for the HP bug tracking tool and got set up quickly, thanks to Maik and the team from HP. So at least I was able to use some 5-10 minutes to get a bit familiar with the tool until the event started. Then a short first chat on Skype with some of the judges. After a work-rich afternoon, 5 pm came closer and I tried to get rid of work and all the discussions we had. Finally at 5:20 I shut down all my work apps and prepared my tools for the event. The Skype chat was buzzing and at 5:30 the Google hangout video chat for the judges was supposed to start, but I was not able to get in. The firewall at work blocked it! So I had to set up my tablet to use Hangouts. There was some trouble with the sessions on Hangout and the live stream to YouTube, so both IDs changed a few times. I was not familiar with Hangouts until that day, so a bit challenging  for me. And since I was not able to use my work laptop with the headset I later found out, that my tablet created the worst echo ever on the video chat. I am so sorry for the audio quality for everyone, when I was not on mute!
At 5:33 the judges got the mail the teams got a few minutes earlier. And finally we got the information about the SUT and who the product owner is. Jason Coutu, who was himself a judge for the North American preliminaries.

Then shortly after 6pm everything was finally set up. I was participating in the Google Hangouts video conference, a Skype chat, had the Youtube channel open to read all the comments, had my Tweetdeck open and all three instances that were set up of the HP Agile Manager, the bug tracking tool.

The fun began. Matt and Jason started talking about the SUT and described for everyone some of the rules again, e.g. no Load Testing! (as far as I know, nobody did. So thanks!) Jason gave a short introduction to his product and some information here and there. And the questions on the YouTube comments came in, mixed up with access problems for some teams to the SUT, some to the bug tracking tool. Some of the judges started posting questions to the Hangout chat for Matt and Jason to answer, we got the info to Jason which users had problems logging in, and another stream was routing the bug tracking tool problems via Maik to HP. In the Skype chat we had short discussions about how to answer certain questions and tried to get them out quickly. Every now and then, we also wondered about a question or the other. But a bit fun for the judges should also be allowed. We were ignoring several categories of questions, what Matt also explained live, to not give some team a bonus.

Dear contestants, be aware, we had the information of the SUT a bit later than you, and all information we had, was said on YouTube and written in the comments. We had no information, that you were not given also. So we tried to repeat some of the answers as good as we could.

Then a problem in the configuration of HP came up. Some users got set up with the wrong account settings and had access to more bugs than they were supposed to. The team from HP tried to fix that as fast as they could, and we judges tried to look into that as well, to see how to spot illegal activities in the bugs. Matt got out a warning via YouTube, that the software under test was the Sales Tool, not the HP Agile Manager. We knew before, that there were some restrictions to the set-up, because the tool is usually not made for non-cooperative teams using the same bug tracker. Especially one team seemed to be very disappointed about that fact. Instead of getting the message of the problem out, and continuing to test the SUT, they even “hacked” some bugs. But since it was a misconfiguration, they were simply allowed by the system to access those bugs, and all information of who changed what were stored. So, we will find out, if somebody changed data from another team.

The rate of comments got lower around halftime of the event, so Matt used the time to talk with us judges. Slowly the bug count got interesting, since we hit the 1500 mark around halftime. The judges got more routine in their tasks, most access problems got fixed, and also Jason used the time for some breakfast I suppose.

Near the end, the rate of comments increased again, mostly about the test reports. We tried to get out all information quickly, even repeating it several times. e.g. to which email address and until which time. Yes, people, even if the event started with some hiccups, the deadline was not moved. Again, welcome to real life! What we were not able to do is answer the requests of confirmation if the reports came in. Maik shared the account info only after the time was up, to prevent some incident of deactivating the auto-responder that the mail arrived. Dear teams who checked the mail address in the beginning and saw the auto-respond there, that’s the reason why you didn’t get it later, when sending the real report. Exchange sends it only once for every mail address.

Around 9:10 the video chat ended on Youtube. Maik and Matt spread some more info about the next steps in judging all the test and bug reports. Then judge after judge left the chat sessions.

I was one happy judge in the end of the evening. The event took place, I was able to focus on the event and to not look at anything work-related. Except some hiccups in the beginning, and the problems with some of the user setups in the Sales Tool and HP, all went smoothly. I met some great people, that I will be working together with in the next weeks. And I got a great comment from Matt in the end, that totally lightened up my weekend. Thanks, Matt!

The tree is gone, the wood is waiting next to my lathe, and tomorrow we will get the list of teams everyone has to evaluate for the first round. I am happily looking forward to some nice green wood turning and to read and rate all of your test and bug reports in the next weeks. Oh yes, and I will also have a lot of work at work.

I will try to blog about the second part of the journey as well, so keep monitoring this channel.

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