Category Archives: Information Technology

Liverpool Tester Gathering – Featuring Lisa Crispin

Having enjoyed and learned plenty about testing from the previous Liverpool Tester Gathering event, I was delighted to attend last week’s event at Avenue HQ. The featured speaker was Lisa Crispin, a well known and famous tester, in the world of agile testing.

Since 1982, Lisa has worked extensively as a programmer, analyst, engineer and tester, with many organisations. Therefore with such experience gained from an incredible journey, I was intrigued to learn more and I was not disappointed.liverpool_tester_gathering_sept2018_3

The event began with a lively and welcoming introduction by Leigh Rathbone from Liverpool Tester Gathering. I was greatly impressed with how Leigh introduced the evening with warmth, humour and a vibrant enthusiasm, creating an atmosphere of positive energy that swamped and caught the audience’s attention. Such an introduction certainly helped to set the feel good tone for the evening.

Listening to Lisa share her testing knowledge and experiences, there was plenty that I learned about testing simply from listening to her stories. What I learned was testing is more than just using technical tools, as it is also about human interaction, through the power of collaborative working. This is because agile testing of applications is paramount, and affects everybody who interacts with them, meaning that testing requires teamwork, collaboration and winning the hearts and minds of people. Therefore testing is the responsibility of everyone!

I also learned that testing requires the following:

  1. The courage to experiment, keep learning and push yourself.
  2. Willingness to use your beginners mind and curiosity to ask questions.
  3. Acknowledging and learning from your team and other people.
  4. Knowing when to stop testing.
  5. Understanding skills and knowledge can be transferred by asking questions, writing documentation, team activities, switching roles, video blogging and shadowing colleagues.
  6. Learning through self education including meetups, round table sessions, online courses, digital content, social media and peer learning.

Audience members also had the opportunity to take part in a lightning talk. This was a three minute slot where volunteers could talk about any subject they feel passionate about, so I took the opportunity to talk about blogging to share stories aliverpool_tester_gathering_sept2018_4nd knowledge with others. I admit I felt the nerves beforehand as giving an unscripted three-minute talk was daunting, but I kept calm and spoke clearly and to the point with confidence. It seemed to go down very well, as I received applause from the audience, and also a person asked me afterwards for advice on blogging, of which I was happy to help.

There were other volunteers who took part in the lightning talks. One talked about the importance of caring and sharing knowledge and expertise, and another talked about the importance of sharing domain business knowledge with colleagues. Such talks encapsulated the whole theme of the evening and spoke volumes of the Liverpool Tester Gathering community.

I would like to thank Leigh Rathbone, Duncan Nisbet, Chris Thacker and Philip Hughes from Liverpool Tester Gathering, for organising the event. In addition, my thanks also go to Lisa Crispin for sharing her testing expertise and knowledge, Stephen Johnson of ROQ for sponsoring the event, and to American Pizza Slice for providing such incredibly delicious pizza!

If you are interested in testing, technology or digital, I recommend these events wholeheartedly, and you can follow Liverpool Tester Gathering on Twitter and YouTube.

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After Hours – Co-op Digital

Working in technology, I enjoy listening to the experiences of other professionals. These occasions allow me to learn from the experiences of others in technology, before applying them to my own work and sharing with others.

Recently I attended the first ever After Hours event at Avenue HQ, which was organised by Oh This Way (OH). This featured Gail Mellows and Matt Tyas of Co-op Digital, who talked about their experiences and how they have used the skills learned on their digital journey, to benefit Co-op Digital and their clients.

Listening to Gail and Matt speak, I picked up on several reoccurring themes. These included collaboration, experimentation, quality of content, and working with other people. These are very important themes required in every single industry, as well as in everyday life.

In addition, there were other useful pieces of advice, that l learned from the event. These correspond to the themes that I have already mentioned, and in the spirit of learning and sharing, I have included some of these below.

  1. Never assume what your customers want.
  2. Experiment with different ways of working.
  3. Use your skills from childhood (e.g. drawing, sketching with colours, or using Lego), to get your ideas across.
  4. Prototyping is the start of collaboration between designers, developers and customers.
  5. Duplication needs to be reduced as it causes inefficiency, is unfair on colleagues, and is ultimately bad for customers.
  6. Important to research thoroughly and involve everyone.
  7. Prototyping allows you to make mistakes safely, quickly and cheaply.
  8. Give teams the right tools to do their job.
  9. Content needs to be designed so that it is legible, readable and accessible to all.
  10. Content and customer needs dictate the design outcome.
  11. Good design should go unnoticed.
  12. Quality of content is perceived by how a customer interacts with it.
  13. What you leave out is as important as what you include.
  14. Use the right words and not more words.
  15. Learn from what succeeded and failed.

To summarise what I have learned, content needs to meet the requirements stated by the customer. This is achieved by using different working methods, techniques and the right tools, to constantly experiment with various scenarios, before creating content that meets the required outcomes. As well as the above, content needs to meet quality standards, be accessible to everyone, is user-friendly, and based on strong foundations of thorough research and robust testing, from all relevant parties.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Robyn Dooley and Victoria Murray of OH for organising the event. My thanks also go to Gail and Matt from Co-op Digital for sharing their experiences, and also to Avenue HQ for hosting the event. This was an interesting and very useful discussion for me, and I am looking forward to the next After Hours event.

You can find out more about Co-op Digital’s work by looking at their blog.

Liverpool Tester Gathering – API Testing Challenges with Postman & REST Assured

Development of an application programming interface (API) requires extensive testing. Such testing not only relates to the usability of an application, but also of the underlying coding mechanics, to ensure the API performs and executes the functions required.

Last week, I attended an event organised by Liverpool Tester Gathering at Avenue HQ, which looked at the challenges involved with API testing when using two specific API tools. These tools are Postman and REST Assured, which enable testers to create and customise templates, in order to test different API performance scenarios.

The event was compared by Ian Smith of ROQ, and featured two speakers in James Hattersley-Dykes and Jonny Fletcher. This event was also my first time attending, so I was looking forward to dipping my toe in the testing world. I was made to feel very welcome, as Ian opened the event by allowing me and other first-time attendees to introduce ourselves, in a warm and friendly manner.

Both James and Jonny proceeded to deliver a fascinating presentation into how Postman and REST Assured can be specifically tailored to test multiple scenarios. One of the major points that I learned early on, was there are lots of variations to consider as part of the API testing process. In addition, I also learned other useful points from James and Jonny, to consider when testing an API.

These points include the following:

  1. Important to document your API’s, as you would do your business processes.
  2. Postman is an API testing tool, which allows testers to create customised testing outputs.
  3. REST Assured is a Java-based library used for writing tailored API tests, which are understandable and human readable.
  4. User interface (UI) is suitable for testing API interface usability, but cannot sufficiently verify functions and back-end services associated with multi-user architecture.
  5. API testing is more suitable for testing automation than UI testing.
  6. In addition to API testing, it is also important to support and compliment both pre and post-testing activities.

Listening to James and Jonny speak, I was impressed with the depth of their knowledge. I not only left with a taste of what is involved with API testing, but also with a book prize that I also won, from tweeting about the event. To summarise, this event has lit the testing flame for me, and I am looking forward to hopefully attending September’s event featuring Lisa Crispin, who I believe is a legend in the Agile testing community.

In conclusion there are several I would like to thank for this event. These include James and Jonny for delivering the presentation, Ian for being a welcoming compare, and also to Avenue HQ for hosting the event. Finally I would also like to thank Doris IT for sponsoring the event, and providing the beer and delicious pizza. Doris IT is an IT recruitment company that works with talented young people from schools, colleges and universities, and develops them with many well-known organisations in the UK.

Thanks for reading!

BIMA & Microsoft Roadshow Liverpool – Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Working in the IT industry, it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments. For me personally, I like to take an interest in how the changing technology landscape, affects both the economic and social society we live in.

Earlier this month BIMA North West in partnership with Microsoft held an event at Avenue HQ, which looked at the above. I was looking forward to learning more about how Microsoft is developing technological solutions, which will shape the future for businesses and agencies. In addition, I also relished the opportunity to network with other technical professionals and creative minds.bima_microsoft1

The event began with an introduction from Andy Kent of Angel Solutions and Ian Finch of Mando. Both set the tone, by talking about the innovative work of their agencies, and how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and cloud computing are changing how businesses operate.

Andy and Ian were then followed by James Akrigg of Microsoft, who delivered an informative presentation. This looked at using AI to understand and translate languages, as well as Microsoft’s ongoing research to improve its capabilities, including image recognition and cognitive services (vision, language, speech, emotion and audio). All of this sounds like science fiction, but they are becoming more entrenched in reality.

Following this, the event split into separate workshops that were delivered by Microsoft technologists, Philip Harvey and Jodie Rodgers. Each presented various aspects of how technology and data can be used intelligently by businesses. This included looking at good practices of intelligent handling, storing, processing, and cleansing of cloud-based data from its rawest form, to accurately visualise and present it. By using these innovations, this provides businesses with the opportunity to identify areas of improvement, and create further value.

What impressed me about James, Philip and Jodie, is they were knowledgeable, friendly, and able to explain technical content in a simple and understanding tone. Coming from a technical background, I was able to understand the terminology, and it was wonderful to sit and listen to them talk about such exciting technological innovations. Quite simply I shall say, the possibilities to enrich and benefit businesses and society, are endless!

So what did I learn from the event? The answer is that I picked up so much in great detail about Microsoft’s Azure cloud solution and Power BI data analytics tools. There were also reoccurring themes from the event related to data and technology, which I have learned and included below:

  1. Data is the new oil!
  2. It is important to amplify human ingenuity with intelligent technology.
  3. Technologies have to be the right fit for a business.
  4. Ability to process data is a vital skill in the marketplace.
  5. Today’s software is becoming smarter.
  6. Before using data, it is important to sort, cleanse, organise and secure it.
  7. If harnessed intelligently, data can bring value to any business.
  8. Quality of data is important, and security is everyone’s responsibility.
  9. Humans prefer data presented visually.
  10. Data needs to be accurate, cleansed, simplified and presented in real-time.

Following lunch, there was an opportunity to take part in a boot camp. This involved taking a fictional case study and applying the knowledge learned from the workshops to devise a solution. Working as part of a team, I was able to contribute ideas, but also to listen and take in suggestions of fellow team members, before helping to present a solution to other attendees.bima_microsoft3

To conclude, I loved every moment of this event. From the speakers, networking and those incredible Microsoft tools, this has given me an insight into the future. It has also given me fresh impetus to learn and write more about AI, ML and cloud computing, especially Microsoft Azure, which I am looking forward to sharing in the future.

I would like to thank everyone involved with organising a terrific day. This includes Andy, Ian, everyone at BIMA, Angel Solutions, Mando and also to Avenue HQ for their hospitality. My thanks also go to James, Philip, Jodie and everyone at Microsoft for sharing their knowledge, technical expertise, visionary thoughts, and their smiles and humour.

If you would like to find out more, why not click on the link below:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/partner/digitalagency/

Thank you for reading!

GDPR – Are You Ready?

Is your business ready to meet the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) framework?

As GDPR is a legal compliance framework, which will be enforced from Friday 25th May, this brings many important changes related to data protection. These relate to how businesses and public sector organisations in the UK and worldwide, need to ensure they are legally compliant with all requirements. The framework also provides a clear definition of the consequences of falling short of GDPR. You can find more information on GDPR and how it affects your business here.

How can you make your business ready for GDPR?

The starting point is to audit, identify and understand the data you hold, along with how it is used, processed and protected. In order to achieve this, ask yourself the following questions below:

  1. What personally identifiable data is held by your business?
  2. How does your business use the data held?
  3. What policies (legal, technical, procedural) do you have in place to protect data?
  4. Have you identified and assessed the privacy risks posed?
  5. Have you incorporated privacy into your business processes to minimise risks?
  6. What have you done to raise awareness of GDPR amongst your employees and clients?
  7. Have you put into place any accountability and governance measures?
  8. Have you nominated a DPO (Data Protection Officer) to oversee GDPR compliance?

From the questions above, you can start to understand and document how your data is used, stored and protected. This will assist you in developing a tailored approach for your business to meet the requirements of GDPR. In addition, this will also assist in identifying and addressing any potential compliance issues, as well as delivering best practice.

I cannot state how important it is for businesses to ensure they are compliant with the GDPR framework. With cyber and data security under the conscious spotlight today and in the future, data breaches carry significant penalties under GDPR, including up to 4% of a business’s total revenue. For businesses of all sizes, the cost of a data breach under GDPR has the potential to be significantly crippling, both from a financial and branding perspective. Therefore it is vital that your business is GDPR compliance, before it is too late.

There is plenty of information and help available out there, so there are no excuses, to not be ready for GDPR.

Time is running out fast, so be prepared!

More information is available by clicking on the links below:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/data-protection-self-assessment/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr/

https://www.eugdpr.org

https://www.csoonline.com/article/3202771/data-protection/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-requirements-deadlines-and-facts.html

http://www.itpro.co.uk/it-legislation/27814/what-is-gdpr-everything-you-need-to-know

Liverpool Girl Geeks – An Introduction

A common concern in the IT industry is the shortage of skills to meet demands of companies and organisations. Complicating matters further, is that there is no simple solution to this. However there is one solution, which I am interested in bringing to attention, which is to encourage more women into technology.

For this article, I have decided to focus on Liverpool Girl Geeks, an organisation who strive to encourage more girls into pursuing their passion for technology. Formed in 2013 by Chelsea Slater and Rebecca Jones, the organisation strives to provide positive interventions from coding, marketing and gaming, through events, courses and workshops.

Liverpool Girl Geeks is not only very important to help close the gender gap, but also to provide the UK economy with the digital skills required in the future. In my opinion, closing the gender gap is imperative, because the lack of women in technology roles in the future, will damage the IT industry and the economy if not addressed.

Closing the gender gap in technology will not only benefit businesses, but also men too. This is because a level playing field can be worth up to £2.6 billion per-year for the UK economy, and men would also benefit from the additional sharing and collaboration of knowledge, skills and ideas.

It was through last years’s Women in Tech event that I attended, that the size of the gender gap in technology was brought clear to me (you can read my thoughts here). Since then, I have thought a great deal about this, and have since concluded that businesses, industry experts, education and society must all come collectively together and work towards bridging that gap, and correct the gender imbalance. This is where the excellent work of Liverpool Girl Geeks is vital, and deserves to be applauded and supported.

I find it very heartening to see the work down by Liverpool Girl Geeks, to help bridge the gender gap. However there is more to be done, in order to ensure that women and girls are able to pursue their technological passions, on a rightfully equal basis.

On that note, I shall leave you with a famous quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

Thank you very much for reading!

GDPR – How will it affect businesses?

Data is essential to the daily and future workings of an organisation. With commercially sensitive information held and stored electronically and physically, the loss and theft of stored data carries serious consequences. These include reputational, financial and legal damage, meaning there are significant pressures for all organisations and businesses, to ensure all necessary steps to secure the privacy of data are taken.

Next year, an important new data protection legislation called EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced. GDPR is a uniformed regulatory framework that will be coming into force across the EU and beyond, to define and bring together multiple requirements for securing data, under a single and clearer legislation.

Some important facts related to GDPR are listed below:

  1. The legislation comes into force on 25th May 2018 and replaces the Data Protection Directive (Directive 95/46/EC).
  2. GDPR will still apply to the UK even after Brexit, meaning that there will be no opting out!
  3. In the UK, the legislation will supersede the Data Protection Act 1998.
  4. GDPR is a legal compliance issue. Therefore the role of IT is to help and assist organisations, with ensuring they are legally compliant.
  5. Applies to all organisations, business and service providers regardless of geographical location.
  6. The data that is protected under GDPR are any forms of personally identifiable information held, related to EU citizens. This includes names, addresses, medical details, contact numbers and more.
  7. Includes all data held electronically, on paper and in other formats.

As a legal framework, the scope of GDPR is an incredibly large web of complexity. For organisations and businesses, the legislation brings many changes, which will affect how personal data is stored and used. This is through strict new legal requirements, which relate to how they can collect, record, store and process data, in addition to defining what needs to be done to ensure compliance.

These requirements include:

  1. Privacy by design, by reducing data collection and retention, in addition to requiring explicit permission to capture data.
  2. Before processing personal data, organisations must analyse and determine privacy risks through Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA).
  3. An individual has the right for their data to be deleted, as part of their right to be forgotten.
  4. GDPR applies worldwide to anyone who holds personal data on an EU citizen.
  5. In the UK, any data breach must be notified to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours.
  6. Infringements of GDPR carry penalties, including fines of up to 4% of an organisation’s total revenue.

In this digital age where political issues such as Brexit have created uncertainty, it is more important than ever, that personal data is stored securely and processed legally. Organisations must take all appropriate steps and measures, to ensure their systems and processes are GDPR compliant. In addition, they will also need to thoroughly check that any business partners and suppliers are also compliant.

To summarise, GDPR is an all-encompassing piece of complex legislation that will transform how personal data can be legally used and processed. Technology will play a major part in assisting all organisational areas are working together to achieve legal compliance, by ensuring GDPR requirements are closely adhered to. Therefore organisations and businesses of all sizes must be aware of the requirements of GDPR, as infringements can damage their brand, both financially and from a reputational perspective.

More information on GDPR is available below:

http://www.itpro.co.uk/it-legislation/27814/what-is-gdpr-everything-you-need-to-know-4

http://www.eugdpr.org/gdpr-faqs.html

https://www.varonis.com/learn/what-is-eu-gdpr/

https://techstringy.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/what-ive-learned-about-gdpr/