Trip Report: German Testing Day

As I’m writing this (or at least starting to write this), I’m on a plane from Frankfurt to JFK airport in New York (where I will catch another flight home to Seattle). I was in Frankfurt for the first ever German Testing Day event. The event is put on by the same folks that put on Swiss Testing Day, so I knew it would go well.

For those interested, here’s a quick recap of the trip.

November 6-7

I flew from Seattle to Detroit, then on to Frankfurt. I just reached “Silver Medallion” status on Delta, so I got a free bump to economy-comfort class and an extra few inches of room on the Detroit to Frankfurt leg of the trip. I’ve been to Frankfurt at least a dozen times, but this was the first time I’ve left the airport (travellers in the audience already know that Frankfurt is a busy airline hub).

I arrived at my hotel (~10 kilometers or so outside of the downtown area) around noon. In an attempt to fight off jet lag, I dumped my bags and then set off to explore. The train station was a 5-minute walk away, and within 20 minutes or so I was in downtown Frankfurt. I took a break at a Starbucks (who apparently have free wireless worldwide these days) to sync my mail and do a bit of work before grabbing some dinner and heading back to my hotel to sleep.

November 8

After a pretty good night of sleep, I had just 3 things on my agenda. 1) Explore more of Frankfurt; 2) Prep for my presentation; 3) Meet the conference board for dinner at 8:00pm.

I combined the first two by working at a coffee shop until I couldn’t stand the wooden seat anymore, then walking around Frankfurt until I couldn’t stand that anymore. Try as I might to park myself somewhere other than Starbucks, it was the only place I could find that had free Wi-Fi access. Coffee Fellows and O’Reilly’s pub both had free Wi-Fi, but they both required that I have a working mobile number (I asked about this at O’Reilly’s, and they said it was so they could track me down if I downloaded exceptionally large amounts of data).

One interesting discovery was a “Hammering Man” sculpture, since we have something almost exactly the same in Seattle (I’ve discovered these are two of three Hammering Men in the world).

Frankfurt "Hammering Man"                          Seattle Hammering Man

By 4:00 or so, I was feeling a little drained, so I went back to my hotel to dump my laptop and take a quick nap before heading off to dinner. It was great seeing Adrian Zwingli from Swiss-Q again and catching up with him. He’s such a passionate person and the perfect person to run these events. After a few beers and a plate of cheese Spätzle that was just a bit too rich to finish, we all headed back to the hotel.

November 9

After another fairly good night of sleep, I got up, prepped a bit more, then took a taxi to Jahrhunderthalle – the site of the conference. I gave the opening keynote of the conference (no pressure!) on Test Innovation at Microsoft. I haven’t given a talk on this topic before, and I had a huge number of insights and revelations during my preparation. I think this is a topic I will continue to develop (both test innovation in general, and sharing the amazing test innovations at Microsoft). The GTD folks got the first glimpse into some of the cool things MS is doing in testing – as well as some tips on how to make innovation happen (hint – you don’t start by saying, “I think I’ll innovate today!”). I felt like the talk went well, but also think that this is a talk I can repeat and improve on in the future as my own thoughts on the subject evolve.I did have quite a few people give me compliments on the talk during the day, but I also realize that people generally don’t track down a speaker to tell them that their talk sucked.

I spent the rest of the day listening in on some of the English talks at the event, and getting a bit of work done. A pair of presenters from eBay talked about test automation principles, and they had a good message (meaning that I agreed with what they had to say, and think they have a good approach). I talked to them a bit afterwards too, and they seem like great people too.

After the event, Sebastien Kernbach (Conference Head from Swiss-Q) one of his colleagues (a woman whose name I have, unfortunately, forgotten) and I had dinner together at the hotel before heading off to bed. Not a crazy night at all, but I was beat, and ready for sleep.

November 10

Time to fly home. I took the hotel shuttle to the airport, had some breakfast, and got on my flight. The connection at JFK went smoothly, and I was home, in my own bed by 9:00pm Seattle time.

Overall, I had a great time on the trip, and once again, the Swiss-Q folks showed me that they know testing and know how to create test events. I was honored to have been invited, and hope I have the opportunity to present at another of their events sometime in the future.

But for now, my travel schedule is completely empty, and I plan to keep it that way for as long as I can get away with it.


  1. These European “Testing Day” and “Test Automation Day” conferences are fabulous, aren’t they?!?

    I did one this year & am already booked for two in 2012.

    Honestly, they only way I can think of that I’d enjoy them more is if they were longer, the flights were shorter, and if participation came with a winning lottery ticket (or the mysterious disappearance of an ex-wife — financially equivalent).

  2. thanks Alan for your inspiring talk on the conference — I already printed out a paper here in my room saying “there has to be a better way” 😉


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