Friday, 24 May 2013

The Challenge

This week I am celebrating my One Year In Michigan anniversary so time for some introspection and reflection.

I can come up with a list of things I've achieved - managed to move over the Atlantic and get settled in, pass my driving test, been driving on the other side of the road without crashing( no jinx touch wood), I dont need to use the GPS all the time, attended many GR Tester Meetups and helped arrange the first ever Michigan Tester Meetup.

And, as you might have noticed from my recent blog posts, I passed my soccer ref exam and became a qualfied ref.

This has been my first full season and apart from lack of fitness leading to knackered calves I've been enjoying it. So far I've only done U8 to U10 though in the next couple of weeks I have a couple of U11 games and then an U12. The match assignors are being great and are building me up slowly, letting me gain experience at the lower levels before moving me up.

Do I want to move up though? The U8 to U10 age is pretty easy - only 6 players on the pitch per team so not hard to keep an eye on, they dont kick the ball too far and though they can run around all day it's not super fast sprints that I cant keep up with ( when my legs aren't knackered) And apart from the occasional incident the coaches and parents have been reasonable and accept that their kids are just learning the game. No dissent at all from the kids. Haven't had to show a yellow or red card or even do a telling off yet.

So I could stay at this level. The kids at that age still need refs. The new refs start off at that age as assistant refs and need to be mentored.

But when I have been reffing, quite often at nearby pitches I can see older age groups playing. Full size pitches. 11-a-side teams. Really fast play. Lots of skills and contact.
And I want to try that out, see if I can cope at that level, see if I have the skills to be a higher level ref.

So what has that got to with me and testing?

One of the reasons I moved to Michigan was to work for Atomic Object - a company that claimed to be producing high quality s/w.

I'd been used to working at the lower leagues of s/w development - bug counts in the 100s, people with next to no understanding of testing, spaghetti legacy code developments, clueless CEOs, zombie testers, metric madness managers....

If you lowered your expectations then it was possible to survive in those environments, even to thrive as you could look like the hero saving the project when you found the 300 bugs before the customers did.
But it chipped away at your soul and I'd read about devs doing TDD, places with CI in place, test-infected cultures, working products shipping every 2 weeks...

Did I want to stay on the U8 pitch keeping control of a small mass of little players running around the pitch? Or did I want to challenge myself and see how I could deal with a proper game?

So I made the move to Michigan and it's been tough. Sure, I know all the theory, putting it all into practice isn't so simple. There have been projects that I haven't been involved in that somehow seem to have shipped and worked and customers are delighted with. I've been trying to ramp up and re-learn my technical skills - last time I used source control it was Source Safe not Git, real Ruby code looks a lot more different than the 'hello world' code I'd been practising with. Mobile apps with all the extra things that need to be considered when testing them. Then there's all the words and concepts I'd never heard of before - lambdas, closures, all the funky Javascript libraries and all the things the designers did to lay out their pages. and to interact with the customers. Prototyping, story boards, innovation games...

It's been - and is - a hard challenge.

But I've been reading a lot of referee blogs and forums recently. Their first games are tough. They cant keep up with play, they find it hard to distinguish between physical play and foul play, they have massive nerves when showing their first red card and are often critical of themselves after a game and analyse every mistake they make.
They carry on though and improve and learn and become a valuable part of the game.

Time for me to take some lessons from the pitch and use them off it.

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