The mind is like a parachute. If it doesn't open, you're meat.

GTAC 2009

26 Oct 2009

I was given the opportunity to attend this year’s GTAC luckily located in the Google offices in Zürich. The Google office is amazing, the conference was one of the most enjoyable events I have attended ever. It was kept small (only 100 invited attendees, of which only 60 were non-Googlers) and the single track was very nicely balanced between technical and academical talks. It was an honor to meet and listen to Dr. Niklaus Wirth: . Coming from the embedded corner I had to nod smiling (when I wanted to jump up and shout “ YES! Tell them! The fools know not how lucky they are!!!”) when he said “if you think software testing is in a shambles I invite you to do hardware for a couple of weeks.” Keeping the event single-track made for very interesting hallway discussions, but the highlight of the conference was the use of Google Wave (and yes, we got invites for the public beta especially for this conference! Yupi!!!).

There was one wave setup for each of the talks, and during the talks two brave souls (Robert Nillson and Dave) worked callouses into their fingers by essentially typing a complete transcript of the talks and the questions. Replaying the wave together with the video of the talk will give you 100% of the information with 80% of the feel (for the nice 20% you had to be there - sorry).

There is just no way to adequately describe the usefulness of Waves for collaborative purposes. You can weave all kinds of information into the live discussion, embedding videos, links, documents, restructuring the content and keeping the complete history.

If somebody new comes along, he just uses the playback functionality to catch up. One of the best things about this feature is that it not only documents the decisions made, it also documents the decision process and the reasons why a decision was made. Which for me makes it all the more easier to reverse a decision once the reasoning no longer stands!

I came away from GTAC with several fresh new ideas, a couple more arrows for my testing bow, lots of new contacts and one more open source commitment as I promised I’ll get the new webdriver/selenium stuff packed into a gem before long.

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