Monday, 13 August 2012

First Days at Works, Creativity and Meteors

In the media world, August is usually silly season for news and features, but at Autism Works, this summer has been different, as we have had a busy testing case load which has seen me experience different software testing processes as well as the excitement and, as I write this entry, the aftermath of London 2012 and the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Learning and partaking in testing of a testing project we currently have on the go has almost been like a first day at work! One is operating outside their comfort zone when learning new tasks. With this project being hugely different to the previous one that I worked (which was web-based), learning and getting used to the procedure for the software we are currently testing was like a first day at work. First days at work are often rough for most of us. Having experienced so many false starts in my employment, I feel as though I have had enough first days at work to become accustomed to expect the unexpected. What is for sure though in the software testing world is that each new testing contract is almost like starting a new job. Being tuned into the moment at the point of starting a new testing contact really does help in learning habits and routines picked up from the previous work in progress, and the supportive environment is certainly a bonus.

Testing Flow Diagrams in the Autism Works break-out room
Since my last entry, I watched an interesting video of a talk at the TestBash, a one day conference hosted by the Software Testing Club, about the theme of creativity in software testing, almost like painting a picture or taking a photograph to explain software testing in simple terms, as well as to find creative approaches towards finding defects. this relates to the autism awareness training aspect of my role at Autism Works where I have found visual methods for learning very helpful, including colour-coded flow diagrams, which our break-out room is now full of. When giving training on Asperger's Syndrome to new staff at ESPA, I was delighted when one of the new recruits said during the Q & A session that before the session she had so many questions to ask, but I managed to answer them all!

Like just about the whole of the UK, Olympic fever has found its way into the Autism Works office and we managed to catch the cycling, rowing and canoeing successes that Team GB have enjoyed during our coffee breaks. Team GB's performance at London 2012, in winning 29 gold medals, as well as finishing above Russia in the medal table, has been nothing short of inspirational. It is a far cry from Atlanta 1996 when there was only one British gold medal. National Lottery funding has obviously made a huge difference. The next challenge though is to maintain it.

On the theme of the Olympics, I got to have a hold of an Olympic Torch in an unusual situation for such an opportunity, during a dark sky observing session at Derwent Reservoir, where one of the other observers, Claire Pazcko, brought the torch she proudly carried through Sunderland during the torch relay, very kindly letting people  have a hold of it. Claire was nominated as a torch bearer for her dedication to the St Oswald's Hospice. I went up to Derwentside to observe the Perseid Meteor Shower. Though the sky was mainly cloudy, I was lucky enough to see two shooting stars without the aid of a telescope of binoculars after the clouds started to clear towards midnight.   

Back had Autism Works, the company has a celebration of its own with Software Test Analyst Dan Cottrell passing his ISEB Foundation Certificate, which is a huge step for the company as well as Dan himself. This fits in well with Autism Works' goals in working with employees to achieve an industry-recognised qualification. With my double challenge, I am now up to 13.5 miles with my running for the Great North Run which is now about a month away as I write this entry. I have also heard that double gold medal winner Mo Farah (who won gold on the Men's 5,000m and 10,000m) is starting the run this year, which should be a great inspiration for the 54,000 participants from all walks of life and for a huge variety of charities/causes. To continue to follow this, visit the following link: http://www.justgiving.com/Chris-MitchellGNR/

Special thanks to Claire Pazcko for letting me have a hold of her Olympic Torch and also to the gamesmakers who have made a huge contribution to making London 2012 so successful, including Claire Wynarczyk, a friend of Autism Works from Ashington, Northumberland, whom you can listen to talking about her London 2012 gamesmaker experience on BBC Radio Newcastle's Aflie and Charlie Breakfast Show at the following link http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p00wppc8 

Congratulations also to Dan Cottrell on passing his ISEB Foundation Certificate - we are all extremely proud of you!

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