BarCamp Boston 9 – Saturday, 10/11/14

My notes from Saturday’s BarCamp Boston 9 sessions and whatnot follow. It’s been a great time so far, as always. I’ve spent more time talking to people than I have sitting in sessions because the conversations have been good and useful.


  • automated QA
  • usability on the cheap
  • wearables
  • I’m leading Networking for Introverts (as in “how to talk to strangers”) at 4:40 p

    Automated QA @ Wayfair

    Selenium tests – cuts the time down for some tasks from 10-60 minutes to 2 minutes

    how do you know what you want Selenium to do, to test?
    priorities: what things should always work? what areas do we want tested, but we don’t always have the time to test?

    lower level unit tests or functional tests, too?
    yes – unit tests, functional tests, integration tests …

    they use a chatroom, too, where test results go, so if tests fail, people know about it and folks can ask for it to get fixed
    Wayfair has a giant code base, so no one’s an expert in all of the code — unit tests are in part because each person only knows a bit of the code and only worked on a bit of the code

    code goes onto a train, then onto staging, tests run there–integration, unit, and other tests + special tests that run daily — sounds like they do nightly testing or something like that

    is it a developer’s responsibility to run the tests?

    added two more manual testers recently + the two presenters do automated testing; 7 testers total [I later asked about the number of engineers and they said about 200.]

    code coverage tool? no

    do they validate testing against customer use? how do their tests compare with what customers do? do they compare the tests to customer logs, edge cases, etc.?
    they haven’t done much with edge cases because they’re still trying to cover the main cases ; usually, they have a manual tester walk through edge case failures

    do they have a lab? use the cloud? yes to the lab and they’ve investigated cloud solutions, but that’s all they can say about that
    what about mobile? yes, they’re working on that, too

    Appium – emulates Google devices

    they have two mobile apps
    the mobile team does some automated testing on the iOS app — mostly about integration testing

    do your tests capture any network latency problems? yes, but sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the problem is with Wayfair versus a problem with the test

    tests on live and staging and it’s possible to run them in dev

    how far back do you go with browsers?
    Firefox CSR and Chrome latest versions
    IE versions? and they groaned and didn’t really answer how far back they go, something like “whatever is on the testing machine.”

    do any of your tests reveal which engineers are bad engineers? no comment
    do you QA folks actually learn about the skills the developers have? yes ; you also learn which teams test, uh, more rigorously than others



    (a very rudimentary synopsis)

    -humility and presumption come in in big ways
    -shouldn’t shame the testers, should shame the developers for building crappy products in the first place
    -remote testing can be an interesting experience (i.e. having people in another company/location test what you build)



    -small screens, few buttons, sensors
    -software: timeline, cards, voice actions
    -Google Glass: timeline: things on the left are in the future, on the right are in the past
    -Glass do a lot of things that you would do by pulling out your phone: read and respond to text messages or translate text, for example
    Android Wear came out after Glass and are like their little brother
    -what kinds of things people are willing to tolerate in public is an important consideration
    -The thing/interface/screen Glasses displays is called a card. Yoni showed some examples of code for cards. It looks like a mix of several things, including HTML.
    Glass Development Kit (GDK) is the development platform
    -LevelUp wanted to jump into Glass; they saw immediate possibilities

    -Android Wear seems to have taken a lot of lessons from Google Glass.
    -Very small screen: 320 X 320, 1.6 inches square or circle (360)
    -Good user experience is possible without creating a completely native app. Reworking existing interfaces to display on a tiny device may be possible.
    -Remember calculator watches?
    -watch does many things in conjunction with Android phones, like display text messages and such
    -many apps exist already
    –recipes display one step at a time
    –request a Lyft
    -special voice actions
    -contextual actions
    -spatial and temporal reminder system
    -speak text messages
    –Yoni said once he started doing it, he realized how many messages he gets a day to which the response is simply “Yes.”
    –Steve pointed out that scrolling is another way to respond to messages and “yes” is the first scroll response.
    -Steve programmed a watch face that shows 24 hours, sunrise and sunset (day and night), nautical stuff, etc.

    Steve is also wearing a Myo Gesture Control Armband, a device on his arm that can be used to control other devices through arm gestures. (Well, yes, you know that did catch my eye. My first thought was having something like that measuring my arm, hand, and finger movements and setting some baselines for measuring my movement capabilities, then measuring them over time to track wellness and impairment. But the idea of having it just as something that could control the actions of other devices is quite appealing, too.)

    (Note: the projectors are incredibly loud and Yoni is sometimes just quiet enough to be difficult to hear. You’d think some designer would figure out how to quiet down a projector fan, so when the projector hangs in the middle of the room, it’s not the noisiest thing in the room, thundering out the presenter.)

    Hawk vs. Drone: A brief study in viral video

    (or how Chris became a viral video star overnight)

    the video
    -Quadcopter + GoPro camera
    -Chris was flying his quad at Magazine Beach in Cambridge when a hawk attacked it
    -Chris turned the motors off to not harm the hawk
    -he turned the motors on too late for the drone to stay in the air
    -his YouTube account is several years old
    -suddenly, about 1.7 million people have visited his account
    –it’s about a drone
    –it’s about technology “failing” to an animal
    —I put “failing” in quotes because the “failure” was not a real failure, but Chris turning the rotors off to protect the hawk
    –technology works fast: some of his coworkers shared his video and things began spreading
    –YouTube has many other videos of technology failing to nature/animals
    –many companies want to procure his video to sell it to TV news agencies and other outlets that want video
    –if you take money for videos like this one, you often have to fill out lots of paperwork
    –someone stole his video while he slept and put it up as their own video on their own page
    –he put out a Twitter post that got retweeted
    –some video management services began contacting him to fill out paperwork for him and take a cut of his profits and he picked one of them
    —several wanted to take ownership of his entire YouTube channel and all of his videos and he didn’t want that
    —don’t upload your videos to reddit because lots of people steal videos from reddit and post them on their own pages as their own videos
    –once other news agencies began circulating his video, his fame grew, mostly because some of them retitled the video to put “drone” in it
    —places misreported what happened to the drone
    –someone else posted one frame of his video on their site and filed a Content ID copyright claim against him through YouTube that is now blocking his ability to get revenue from ads
    —the ad revenue was going to go to the Massachusetts Audubon Society
    -Chris wishes there were a better and easier way to walk the line between the big guys and the little guys as far as licensing and payment and whatever. He’s willing to let people share the video. He wants the people who can afford to pay to pay and the folks who can’t to have it for free. There is not easy way to sort through those two groups.
    -YouTube comments: a very different breed of comment from other sites
    –many comments are the same
    –some have nothing to do with the video
    -many people misidentified the bird
    -he hasn’t heard from any animal behavioralists, but people suggested that the juvenile red tail was practicing attack tactics or, uh, learning about what is and is not prey
    -Q: does Cambridge have any problems with drones?
    –He flew his drone around Cambridge City Hall taking measurements for about 45 minutes one day, then used the measurements to make a 3D model. He figures if the city had problems with drones, someone would have come out to talk to him then. He’s flown his copter at big city events and had police ask him lots of questions about the technical aspects of flying it.
    -his GoPro battery died just after his copter landed

    And people wonder why I don’t post my train pictures and videos online.



    (I ran the jobs session again.)

    -General Assembly: hiring instructors and someone to help with admissions
    -Dimagi: Web (Python/Django), product manager, mobile (Android)
    -Avidest: freelancer network -> all kinds of freelancers
    -Onshape: CAD, interns, some full-time hires (convert interns)
    -PatientsLikeMe: Rails developer
    -Boston Globe Media: engineers, marketers, UX, & more!
    BarCamp Boston sponsors’ jobs


    Networking for Introverts
    (as in how to talk to strangers)

    (I also ran this session.)

    -what is an “introvert”
    –finds being around other people exhausting
    –draws strength from within
    –makes a good leader
    –recharges alone
    –can sit for long periods of time doing quiet tasks (like, oh, coding)
    –“shyness” and “introversion” are different things
    -starting conversations can be hard, especially when you don’t know the other person
    -everyone’s waiting for the other person to say “Hello” first
    -think of it like a game: the first person to say “Hello” wins

    Pair up and say “Hello.”

    -what else can you talk about?
    -think about what you’d be willing to talk about
    -think about what you’d want to discuss
    -is there anything you want to know about the other person or you want the other person to know about you
    –if you’re looking for a job, do you want to tell the other person that you’re looking and what you’re looking for?
    –if your company is hiring, do you want to tell the other person?
    -some ideas for when you’re at a place/event like BarCamp
    –what do you do for a living?
    –what brings you to BarCamp?
    –how did you learn about BarCamp?
    –have you attended BarCamp before?
    –what sessions have you gone to?
    –are you presenting? what? when? where?
    –what do you hope to get out of this gathering?

    We split up into groups again. The conversations were going so well, it wasn’t long before the pairs turned into multiples turned into two groups having conversation. We all pretty much agreed that the day was good, but exhausting, and we were looking forward to spending the evening recharging to come back to BarCamp refreshed. Some folks shared ideas about how to recharge, like playing Solitaire, coding, cooking, and spending Sunday hiking instead of coming to BarCamp’s second day.

    #bcb9, #BarCamp Boston 9

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