Meetup Review: Testing at the Tavern

Last week I was invited by @stefantomas, a friend and former colleague, to attend his new London software testing meetup catchily named Testing at the Tavern

Now I’ll be honest I was a little apprehensive.  I’ve been to plenty of testing meetups and conferences before and let’s face it, they tend to go one way or the other – brilliant with lots of insightful speakers and interesting people, or pretty dull, full of recruiters and people who just turned up for the free bar.

I’ve known Stef a long time and he’s super passionate about what he does and he’s trying to do something a bit different, so what the hell the least I can do is turn up and show my support. – he had even lined somebody up to speak about testing for biases, which sounded kind of interesting.

When I turned up I spotted a small group of software tester looking types chatting over a beer and they welcomed me to join their conversation.

Two pints later we’d covered a whole range of topics from the automation triangle to current weather in Catalonia (one of the attendees, Brian, was visiting from Barcelona).  It was great being able to sit down after a long day at work and chat aimlessly with a group of like-minded people.

Soon we were joined by our guest speaker @adamleonsmith, a super passionate guy who’s currently working on building a new enterprise bug reporting tool which leverages machine learning to improve project planning accuracy by analysing and learning from bug reporting stats.  He spoke at length about machine learning, citing examples of how it is being used in various fields and often resulting in less than desirable effects.  This prompted a lively discussion about the challenges of testing systems which incorporate machine learning, and the risks associated with biased training data.

Adam’s presentation left me feeling invigorated about has since prompted me to do some of my own research into machine learning and the different test approaches people have employed.

In summary I had a great evening at Testing at the Tavern.  I caught up with some old friends and colleagues, made acquaintance with some interesting and talented people, and left with a fresh enthusiasm and new subject area for my future reading and research. Thanks for the invite Stef, I’ll definitely be attending again soon.