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Michael Bolton


Tester, consultant, and trainer Michael Bolton is the co-author (with James Bach) of Rapid Software Testing, a course that presents a methodology and mindset for testing software expertly in uncertain conditions and under extreme time pressure. Michael is a leader in the context-driven software testing movement, with twenty years of experience testing, developing, managing, and writing about software. Currently, he leads DevelopSense, a Toronto-based consultancy. Prior to DevelopSense, he was with Quarterdeck Corporation, where he managed the company’s flagship products and directed project and testing teams—both in-house and worldwide. Contact Michael at [email protected].

Speaker Presentations
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 8:30am
Full-day Tutorials
Critical Thinking for Software Testers

Critical thinking is the kind of thinking that specifically looks for problems and mistakes. Regular people don't do a lot of it. However, if you want to be a great tester, you need to be a great critical thinker. Critically thinking testers save projects from dangerous assumptions and ultimately from disasters. The good news is that critical thinking is not just innate intelligence or a talent—it's a learnable and improvable skill you can master. Michael Bolton shares the specific techniques and heuristics of critical thinking and presents realistic testing puzzles that help you practice and increase your thinking skills. Critical thinking begins with just three questions—Huh? Really? and So?—that kick start your brain to analyze specifications, risks, causes, effects, project plans, and anything else that puzzles you. Join Michael for this interactive, hands-on session and practice your critical thinking skills. Study and analyze product behaviors and experience new ways to identify, isolate, and characterize bugs.

Note: A laptop computer is recommended (but not required) for this session.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 8:30am
Why Software Drives Us Crazy

Some people insist that machines will replace humans in many different ways; others disagree, but without explaining why. You could say a smartphone app replaces an admin assistant by managing your schedule. However, to make the app work, you must modify your usual behavior by providing input in a formal, explicit way, and then interpreting and correcting its output to make up for the app's inflexibility. But storing, transforming, and displaying data are only part of the picture. Truly managing your schedule means making decisions about values, politics, and social concerns, and that requires tacit knowledge internal to you and not easily transmitted to machines. Michael Bolton describes how great testing depends not only on requirements but also on people's ideas, experience, and social interplay. Machines may accelerate or extend some human actions, but machines do not have access to people's tacit knowledge. And without that, important things get lost. Michael describes the implications for testing—and for the products that drive us crazy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:30am
Test Management
Do You See What I See?

Managing a software project is challenging. Managers often need to deal with overwhelming amounts of data and detail but they must also be able to see the big picture at a glance. What can testers do to help? Excellent testing involves composing, editing, narrating, and justifying a story about the product, about the testing, and about the quality of the testing. However, telling a good story doesn't just depend on the raw data; it depends on representing, organizing, and displaying information to illuminate key points, highlight trends, and show variation. Michael Bolton takes you on a tour of approaches to illustrating the testing story, designed to keep the entire project team informed of product status and testing activity, to foster discovery and productive conversation, and to help managers ask better questions and get better answers.