Attempt to Improve the Blog: Halftime

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to improve my blogging skills. 

Attempt to Improve the Blog: Scheduled Posts

Attempt to Improve the Blog: User Experience

Attempt to Improve the Blog: Who are my Readers?

Now it is halftime and I have to say that I was good with scheduling posts, but the rest of ideas around the blog faded away. I have to laugh about myself, because I dis not follow my own mantra – improve just one thing at the time. I learn the lesson and the rest of the year will focus only on scheduling posts.

What I learned so far? A lot! Mostly about myself and how I do things. Scheduling helps me to push myself, now I know if I want to accomplish something I have to challenge myself. At the beginning when I was writing on Sunday evenings, my husband asked what will happen if I will not publish on Monday 12:12. The answer is: nothing! But it was and is important to me to carry out. I had more than 40 half finished, finished drafts of blog posts. Now I have only 14. Not all of them I published, some I deleted as obsolete. I don’t have to hang on old ideas, there are so much happening around me!

Little statistics:

I wrote 30 blog posts in first half of 2019.

So far my blog had 3095 visitors and 4742 views.

Favourite posts with 535 views is https://testretreat.com/2019/05/06/test-automation/

Second favourite with 406 views: https://testretreat.com/2019/06/10/how-to-explain-exploratorytesting-in-5-minutes/

I have another posts about exploratory testing in the pipeline, but you have to wait until autumn. Until end of August I will be on and off holidays.

Have a nice summer!

Janet Gregory: 3 Blog Posts

As a trainer I give a training every week, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview I decided to do little collection of sources I usually mention and additionally to highlight 3 blog posts.

When I read Agile Testing, book written by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin, I could not imagine that few years later I will teach her & Lisas training. Over the years Janet has helped me to write articles and to find my voice in testing community. I am big fan of Agile Testing Fellowship and excited to be part of it.

Here are Janets 3 blog posts:

  1. Shift Left – Why I Don’t Like the Term

  2. Do You Need A Test Column? …Lets Talk.

  3. Removing Clutter – Removing Defects

Have fun while learning!

Johanna Rothman: 4 Blog Posts

As a trainer I have another training every week, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview I decided to do little collection of sources I usually mention and additionally to highlight 3 blog posts.

I remember that I heard about Johanna Rothman before, I remember that I read some of her pieces, but I was in other level of life and I did not really understood her. This winter I rediscovered Johannas blogs (she has three of them!!!) and keep reading us much as I can. I like that her blog posts make me think and some of things I try to use in my coaching sessions. Here are Johannas 4 blog posts from her blog Create An Adaptable Life:

  1. What Makes You Remarkable?
  2.  How Do You Feel When Others Honor You?
  3. When Do You Suffer from Comparison-itis?
  4. Who Will You Start to Become Today?

Have fun while learning!

Attempt to Improve the Blog: Scheduled Posts

December 2018 I had 43 drafts with ideas or almost done blog posts. Over holidays I did review, some got deleted immediately, some are ready to go, but I need to change context or words like “yesterday” to “some time ago”. Now I am down to 36 drafts. Still too many. It is obvious that I have no problem with ideas, but I may seem to struggle with output. Some of blog posts where ready to publish. I wonder, why I did not.

One aspect, why I tend not to publish, is time. I am overcommitted in several projects. There is always something on my to do list, so many things I want to do! Another aspect is that I prefer the process – I really enjoy researching, analysing, puzzling the big picture – this is what I like to do. To publish a result is not so important. Everything would be great if my memory wouldn’t be so bad. If I do not write down, I forget. Sometimes people come to me to thank that I said something particularly inspiring or motivational, and I do not remember a thing, it is gone, my head is full of other ideas. So, I need to write down. And if it is written, why not to publish?

I was reading blog post When Can Structure Enhance Your Creativity written by Johanna Rothman. She has high output (just look at the list of her books!) and in this post she gives few ideas how she achieves that. With structure.

Summary of all this is – I decided to set a day and time when I publish something on my blog. My minimum requirement is one blog post a week. Publishing day will be Monday (I will find the time to write on weekend, right?), time will be 12:12. This is first scheduled post, will see how it goes and if it will help me to publish.

Attempt to Improve the Blog: User Experience

One thing what I want to improve in 2019 is my blogging. Not loosing a day, here comes first improvements.

I am learning about the tool (WordPress) by using it. Around a year ago, when I changed the theme, I became aware of categories and tags and importance of those.

Categories and tags build structure of a blog. Categories are high level grouping tool and helps readers to understand identify of the blog. Tags are detail level information about specific aspects in single blog post. See graphic above to have an example how it can look like: category – personal development, tags – conferences, quality, roundup, software, trainings. Now I think this is a bad example, because “software” does not fit in. Another proof that I am not perfect :D.

Blog posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order. Most readers are not interested to read ALL the blog posts, but are searching for particular information. Here comes user experience part: if blog has well-considered categories and tags, it helps user to find information faster.

Some sources state that it is not possible to change categories and tags after publishing. I changed both several times and never experienced any problems. As most of beginners, I could not decided what should be category and what should be a tag. Not so long ago, I had 20 different categories and no hierarchy. Today I took time to recategorise my blog. A lot of work with 100 posts, many had two or three categories, but in the same time this exercise was excellent retrospective. Now I have only 11 categories and I made them visible on the sidebar. A good category structure should be flexible and designed to handle any future content. I am not sure that 11 is the final number, maybe few other should be eliminated, but at the moment it gives me flexibility I need.

Tool, which finally helped me to relate post to only one category, was to imagine that my blog is a book. This approach is suggested in several resources about categories.  Idea is very simple – in a book topics are organised into chapters and one topic can be organised into one chapter. I imagined that categories are my chapters and tags are the keywords listed at the end of the book.

Time will show (or you can tell me) if this improves user experience.

Attempt to Improve the Blog: Who are my Readers?

One thing what I want to improve in 2019 is my blogging. Not loosing a day, here come the first improvements.

I started blogging by sharing my current ideas and topics. The idea behind it was to track my personal development. My part was clear to me, but I had no idea about the readers. For a long time I did not know if somebody at all read the blog: I got some little traffic, but there was no sign that this somebody really read the article and found it useful. I kept writing and one day, I guess it was after it was added to MOT blog feed, system informed me about my very first follower. At the moment I have 46 followers in WordPress and 7, who subscribed per email.

In the mean time I started to learn about the tool I am using – WordPress. Many topics are still very blurry to me, e.g. where WordPress ends and Automatic starts, where exactly information is stored etc, but I am learning. WordPress shows me information where the readers come from. As you see from the graphic above, most of you come from Twitter or MinistryOfTesting websites. Facebook is a mystery to me, because I do not use it. What comes to search engines, no idea what they where looking for, because I do not see keywords. For more detailed information I would need to instal reader tracking, but I prefer to keep it very basic.

Once you landed on my page, the question is, what else do you read? For today it looks like this.

First three are my last blog posts, linked in right sidebar for each page on my blog. Funny thing is that I linked there last four blog post, but 4th does not appear on todays summary. Conclusions which I make here:

a) you already read Trainer Notes before;

b) no interested in my stories as a trainer;

c) you did not see it;

d) you had time to read only three blog posts;

e) there is something between my blog and you, who overrides my settings and shows only last three posts.

I could continue like this forever, but in software development we talk a lot about getting to know your users. If I see this blog as kind of product, that you, my dear reader, are user of it. So…

Here we come to the most important part. Call for feedback! Dear 53 followers and guest readers, I would really appreciate if you would share what you like in my blog and what you do not like, any suggestions, feedback or simply to say “hi!”. It would be great to get to know you! For this occasion I reopened comment feature. GDPR made me disable it, so be aware that by leaving a  comment, WordPress system will save your IP address and only possibility to delete it, is by deleting your comment.

Lisa Crispin: 3 Blog Posts

As a trainer every week I have another training, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview I decided to do little collection of sources I usually mention and additionally to highlight 3 blog posts.

This week I will highlight Lisas work. I had the honour to create and run a workshop with her together and since then, I am huge Lisas fan (I was before already, but now HUGE fan.)  Her blog has all kind of posts – information about webinars, recordings, book reviews, pieces of information from her books and many, many, many situations of her daily work. Here are Lisas 3 blog posts I suggest you to read:

  1. Teamwork for building in quality
  2. Dressage, Discipline and Quality
  3. Team Commitment to Quality

Have fun while learning!

Katrina Clokie: 3 Blog Posts

Katrina Clokie

As a trainer every week I have another training, another group of people and one of 3 topics: testing, requirements, quality with or without agile. To entertain myself, each time I tell another stories and mention another resources. There are no identical trainings. To keep an overview I decided to do little collection of sources I usually mention and additionally to highlight 3 blog posts.

I start with Katrina, who is one of my role models. Her blog is a real treasure chest, but many post surfers may have a feeling that it is for advanced readers. Please do not get scared, here are 3 blog posts what everyone will find helpful:

  1. Use your stand up to make testing visible

  2. How do you decide what to automate?

  3. Can we remove a tester from our agile team?

Additionally I suggest you to explore her posts labeled with “Pathway“.

Story Behind My Logo

The logo for my website is not coincidence. It has a back story and deep meaning for me.

Story

Many of you associate me with Germany. Sometimes people speak broken German to me with aim to connect on personal level, but the thing is I live in Germany only because my husband is German. I am born, grew up, studied and worked in Latvia. Next week my small, but brave country will celebrate 100th anniversary. I am huge patriot of my country and in my local circles well known for distributing tourism information about this green and untroubled place on earth.

We Latvians are very proud of our culture – locally (dances, songs) and internationally (music, science, sports). Big part of our cultural heritage are signs, known and used since Middle Stone Age. My logo is one of those signs.

meaning

Sign of Laima (fortune) is proved to be one of the oldest known signs in Latvian (Baltic) culture. Laima is known as peoples life path giver, fortune. Displayed a fire needle – symbol of nature, evergreen as omen of not giving up. Another explanation is based of feathers of birds, which symbolises the soul.

Sing of Laima has a branching – Swab of Laima. Placed horizontally and extended.

Meaning: A soul keeper. Sweeps away the undesirable.

Why it is important to me

When I moved to Germany I faced many struggles: alone without family, friends and business contacts, I had to start all over again. Of course my husband was supporting me all the way, but he is from different domain and his friends and family are his, not mine. Especially hard it became when my mother got sick and died.  I felt like i was loosing my roots. I felt torn between two families, two countries, two cultures, two realities. I felt lost in translation. Belonging really nowhere, except my safe place – my little family around me.

What helped me, was reading Latvian literature, listening and singing Latvian songs. Reconnecting, rebuilding with my origin, but this time without my mother.

On the way I rediscovered Swab of Laima and gave another meaning to it:
>>>   all my stories in the past. everything what made me – me
<<<   everything, what expects me in the future. the person I will become
|||       living now and here. me as connection node for two stories, two countries, two cultures, two realities

GDPR Awareness

We got 2 years to adapt to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the new EU Privacy law. But most of us are excellent in procrastination and sometimes it is easier simply to panic.

In my understanding GDPR is about personal data, operations with it and consent of data owner. I have very simple wordpress blog/website. I do not collect any information about my readers, I never force somebody to read my blog post or any other pages of my website, I have no special plugins or cookies to track you, I do not send any emails. So why should I bother about GDPR?

If I do not collect any personal data, am I sure that the platform I use for my blog (WordPress) does not do it as well? To answer that question, I checked first what GDPR understands with “personal data”. Answer is simple – anything what helps you to identify physical person. Some examples: name, postal address, bank account, email address, IP address.

Yes, you can identify somebody by his email address and IP address, and both are pretty necessary to do anything on internet.

WordPress is no exception – it collects personal data of users – readers and spammers. Here you can see site stats and link in admin panel to akismet stats – both default features which I cannot deactivate. If you want to leave a comment than 1) you have to log in and 2) your IP will be saved, which is another default feature, which I cannot deactivate.

Second bunch or potential danger are all kind of embedded social networks – g+, FB, twitter … you name it. They are present in our digital lives, but I have no idea what exactly they do.

What i did?

  1. reduce the waste! I removed everything what I do not find necessary. e.g. I have no liking or sharing options anymore, because I do not use it myself and I do not know what the third parties do with my readers data.
  2. started to rework privacy policy page and consider to look for another blogging platform
  3. WordPress created webpage for all GDPR related issues. I expected to find there answers to all my questions, but unfortunately it did not happen. One of the issues (please notice that this is less then 24h before regulation takes effect):
>> How do I opt out of being tracked when I use Automattic’s services?

We’ll offer an opt-out from our first party analytics tool for WordPress.com users. We are still working to finalize this process for our products. We will update the information here, and in our documentation, with more details about how these processes work once they are ready.

 

what should you do?

  1. first of all you should know that I do not collect any data on you
  2. if you do not want to be identified –
    • do not spam (in this case WP saves your IP address to protect my website)
    • do not leave a comment on my website (in this case you have to log in on the platform) — UPDATE: until WP updates the platform, I am closing commenting feature.
    • do not follow my blog (login on WP)
  3. if you want to contact me – do it via email: kris [at] corbus dot digital  or twitter

Some links, I found useful

Definitions what GDPR understands with personal data, operations with it and consent of data owner

GDPR compliance checklist

DSGVO Selbsthilfegruppe on FB (German)

Privacy policy of others (German)

Privacy policy generator (German)