Disclaimer: This is a personal journal documenting my thoughts on testing, design, life, personal and professional development. All writing is from my perspective bias and not representative of my employer or anyone else. If you'd like to chat about anything I've raised, feel free to email me.

2016 In Review

Jan 15, 2017

Last I wrote I was adventuring into food education. 2016 wasn't the greatest year for many reasons. We lost a lot of legends... Those that particularly moved me was the loss of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher. There was the conclusion of a highly charged American Election. And other things...

Unfortunately in June 2016 I had a triggering health event which saw me end up with daily chest pain. There was quite a few trips to the Emergency Department. A week long stay in the hospital. And many many tests later, we finally found something that didn't come back as "normal".

On December 15 I had Laparoscopic Partial Fundoplication surgery, which is the medical name for a procedure to prevent reflux of stomach acid up the esophagus. A month on and I'm recovering nicely. The surgery was a successful, and seems to have dealt with the main chest pain, which is fantastic.

This of course meant that my website took a back seat as I focused on my health, and I didn't get my illustration gallery updated as I'd intended.

Along the way, I finished my Elimination diet and discovered I don't tolerate foods with high fructose. This was wonderful progress as it has not only grown my understanding of what's in my food, but given me more control, so I can successfully manage my digestive health!

Overall, while 2016 was rocky, I had lots of support from friends and family, and I have higher hopes for 2017. I have also been able to expand my horizons, finding out what I'm really capable of under extreme circumstances.

Recent Challenges

May 27, 2016

So apparently my regular blogging resolution ended with the end of last year. I think it's because I didn't reset the reminder in my phone after the Christmas holidays. Ah well, life has obviously been choca block full of other things to keep my attention. One of those things has been...

Doing a FODMAP Elimination diet. This is like a science experiment, for when the doctors think that you might have a food intolerance. You need to reset your body, to test what exactly you might be having a reaction to. I am currently 4 weeks in to the elimination phase, there is another 4 weeks of living without the food I love, then 8 weeks of carefully reintroducing food and food groups to test them. (Don't try this at home unless you've consulted with a doctor and a nutritionist.)

What I have learned so far is an entirely new appreciation for anyone with specific dietary requirements. Finding food is hard. Reading ingredients is hard. Eating out, in some situations, is darn near impossible. But society is getting better. There are products and shops out there with dairy free and gluten free offerings. Having multiple things you're intolerant to is much harder, but you learn to make things yourself pretty quickly.

That and Google is brilliant! It makes it possible to connect with other people that are going through the same problems as you. Then you can all share advice, recipes, and health knowledge together. This is the good side of the internet.

And if nothing else, this whole process has been an educational one. Hopefully though, in another 12 weeks, I should know more about what my body likes, and what it can't handle.

Wish me luck!

The Rush of Triumph

Nov 27, 2015

Ok. So I'm not a gamer. I didn't grow up playing computer games. My partner plays games on his consoles and computer. I really enjoy watching him play... especially for those games that are rich in visuals and story telling.

There are however a few games I like to try now and again, because I'm a huge fan of the theme. One of these is American McGee's Alice, and the following release Alice: Madness Returns. I'm head over heels for Alice in Wonderland, and I really love this dark twisted version of the story that I can actually interact with.

So, I come home and try going through Madness Returns. I'm a novice. If there's a surface I can fall off and die, I will. If there's a critical fight to get through to the next section, I'll fail a minimum of 3 times before I eventually win.

But boy, when I do win. When I've been through the same fight 5+ times, each time getting closer, then I finally kill the last bad guy, with a drop of health left? It. Is. Amazing. The high of triumph kicks in. I yell for joy, I mock the defeated cronies as if I always knew I could do it, and continue on in my adventure. Happy that I have completed my task.

It is a great way to finish a work day.

Pride In The Product

Nov 20, 2015

I can't help it. Part of me views our product as an extension of myself and what I can do. If it becomes unstable, if things we have done suddenly become undone, if the user experience is irritating or confusing, I feel responsible. I feel like it's a reflection of me, and I haven't done a good enough job.

How does one avoid this as a tester? Is it exacerbated by the fact that I am a lone tester on our project?

I try and advocate. I sometimes get my words muddled, but I make good points. And still, there is too much to do and no time to address usability and minor bugs. It makes me sad. We are so close, but so far.

How can I present our product, stand by it and say "hey, I contributed to this!" when I'm aware of all the niggles and lacks it has?

Hard questions. No good answers. *Hulks out and goes off to play Lego Harry Potter*

Ode to Wil Wheaton

Nov 12, 2015

I have been listening to Radio Free Burrito. It is a podcast (I have recently discovered podcasts) done by Wil Wheaton.

I would like to say at this point, that Wil Wheaton is one of my few idols. I'm not quite sure when this happened. I don't really actively think of people like that. It wasn't until I rediscovered him as an adult through the web series Tabletop, that I learned he was also in Star Trek which I enjoyed with my parents when I was a kid.

Board games have made a big impact on my adult life. I'm not good at socialising. Small talk makes me super uncomfortable. (So parties where there are people and alcohol and nothing else are a nightmare.) When you're playing a tabletop game, you're off your devices and interacting with others, but without the pressure of filling silence. My partner and I discovered the Geek & Sundry website and subsequently Tabletop when we were searching for board game "play through"s.

Since then I have found Wil's Blog and the aforementioned podcast.

Through these media offerings I have learned more about Wil. I have learned that this person who I respect, who has been a part of a lot of geeky shows I love, and collaborated with other awesome actors and personalities I geek out over, shares the same struggles I do. This person who I put on a pedestal, so far above the world I know, feels the same things I feel. And is willing to share his struggles so I can know this. I got to listen to him, as if I were his friend.

I feel so grateful to Wil for all the wonderful things he's brought into my life (like Tabletop). I admire his perseverance in the face of a celebrity existence, where so many people think that they have the right to judge you. The internet is not a kind place and I'm proud of Wil, continuing to do what he does and share his thoughts with us. It is nice to be a fan of celebrities that are not only produce super cool material, but are genuinely awesome people as well.

So thank you Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Mayin Bialik, Emma Watson, Stephen Fry and more. For feeding the media of my life and making it richer, but making me proud to be your fan as well.


A 27 year old fan, living in New Zealand.

Nobody is Perfect

Nov 5, 2015

I understand very well that nobody is perfect. I'm keen on improving myself. Not just my practical skills, but my people skills. I'm of the opinion that if you have an issue with someone about something, how they talk to you or others, you should totally tell them. Don't leave them to continue none-the-wiser! Often the things that make it difficult to deal with people, are things they don't realise they're doing!

I was very fortunate to grow up with friends and family who occasionally highlighted my weaknesses. Initially it's a bit heart wrenching. Especially if you didn't realise you've been making people feel bad (for whatever reason) because of your words or actions. If you're anything like me, you want to be the best person you can be, and often, you really want people to like you.

But be kind about it. Be careful. First discuss things with people when they're alone. Never in front of others, as this can instantly make someone who might otherwise take critique well, very defensive. Or write them a little email. Leave it a day to send and re-read it to check the tone. Try not address issues first thing in the morning. Do it on a lunch break, or at the end of a good day, when people have the option to leave if they're feeling uncomfortable or distressed.

I write this from both sides of the fence. I would far rather deal with the upset of someone telling me something unpleasant to my face, than be complained about behind my back. That way, at least I have the option to try and do things differently. Be a better me.

However, you should also realise that some people will always dislike you. There are some things you don't have control over. The challenge is gaining the wisdom to know when to try and when to just say "you know, I'm doing the best I can" and let others deal with their own issues. I find it helps to surround myself with people who truly reflect me, so I can see the good as well.

We're In The Future!

Oct 22, 2015

So the date that Marty and Doc go into the future came and went yesterday. Alastair and I watched Back To The Future Part 1 on Tuesday, Part 2 yesterday and will watch Part 3 tonight.

It made me wonder. What do I expect for life 30 years from now? So I thought I'd write a little list of what I think the future will be...

  • I'll be 57 years old.
  • My parents will probably be gone. (O-O)!
  • My cat will be dead. (T-T)! But I'll definitely have another pet.
  • I should own my house outright. If I haven't upgraded to a more expensive one.
  • We should have cures for some diseases we don't have now.
  • More advanced medical care, that still probably won't be accessible to everyone.
  • Virtual reality! Holo decks like in Star Trek would be awesome.
  • Machines will be common in the workforce to replace people.
  • More value will be given to works of art created by hand, or hand crafted goods, as a response to products being produced mechanically.
  • Parts of the world will have been written off completely by pollution. Unless we've actually managed to invent ways to rejuvenate the earth or break down products safely.
  • I'll be smarter than I am now, because I'll have learnt more.
  • I might have travelled overseas.
  • I might have become more advanced in my career.

Wow... I feel like such a pessimist. But a realist at the same time. Let's hope if I read this in 30 years time I can add some good things to this list...

Getting Attached

Oct 21, 2015

I was talking with my sister last week and we are both currently struggling with being too attached to our projects. It's to be expected really, if you're working on something for an extended period of time, especially if you're involved with it from initial idea to actual implementation and release. It's natural to be invested. You care about if it succeeds or fails. You care about making it the best product it can be. You're willing to push yourself more to get things done. Really, it becomes a little part of you.

Unfortunately, this can also be dangerous. Being emotionally involved with your product can make it harder to make decisions, it can be a big blow if something goes wrong, or the product doesn't become the next greatest thing like you wanted it to. You can feel responsible and absorb the product's lows. You might take blame where it wasn't within your control to change the outcome.

There seems to be a precarious balance. We need to care enough and invest enough of ourselves to do a great job. But not so much that we fall if the product falls, or we end up working in an unhealthy way to the detriment of our life outside work. (Yes, you should have a life outside work.)

I personally feel like I need to be able to step back and say "Yep, I did that, I helped create that". But know that when I leave work, it's not my problem anymore. That there are other people that are responsible for sales, marketing, support etc. I can only do, what I can do.

Why Design?

Oct 7, 2015

Design is important. Design is valuable. Design affects the things we use every day.

It is not just making things look pretty. We can't just cut and paste using whatever is found on Goggle. Our work carefully considers the customer's needs and their audience to craft unique solutions for them. It takes significant time and hard work.

The world needs design, and further, it needs Graphic Design (evident in anything you can see) because it helps us communicate. It helps us get our message across to the right people in the right way. It helps us prioritise what is the most important information. It helps guide users in how they can interact with our products. It sets expectations of value.

So please, if you're creating a new product, having an event, or wanting some marketing, consider hiring someone whose sole job is to understand how design can help you better engage with your clients. And if you do, respect their process and their opinions. They've probably studied and worked just as hard to get to where they are as you have.

What Does SQA mean to me?

Oct 1, 2015

I'm trying to go through some questions to understand more about how I test, what I value, what I'm offering to my development team etc. This is one of my Q & A sections.

What does SQA (Software Quality Assurance) mean to me?

An effort on behalf of the business creating a product or service, to get a better understanding of, and improve upon, the quality of that product or service. Quality is in relation to many things; stability, usability, reliability, security etc. Software Quality Assurance provides a level of confidence that the system under test functions like it is expected to. What those expectations are varies.

What is the purpose of testing?

In addition to the aboveā€¦ it helps find issues that are a threat to the value of the product. Because these issues are discovered, they can then be addressed. It gives the development team a chance to do things better. It offers a different perspective, enabling people to think about the product in different ways, take things for granted less. It offers a safe avenue to question.

Hyperbole and a Half

Jan 4, 2012

In my web exploration I have found THE funniest blog site ever! I found it through a friend and then spent the next few days reading all the old posts and rolling around on the floor. My partner came to see why there were random peals of loud laughter coming from my work room. It's well worth a look. I guarantee you'll get a smile.


Some sites to check out

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