Wait, two featured bloggers in January? That’s right…along with Jeff Cutler, we’re happy to introduce software expert Justin Rohrman as our newest blogger on ITKnowledgeExchange. He will be contributing on Matt Heusser’s blog, Uncharted Waters, and providing commentary on all-things IT related. Welcome Justin!
ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?
JR: My day job is software testing. I’ve been at this for about 9 years now and have no intentions of stopping, it seems like there is something new to learn every day. I’m very much a generalist in the testing world, I’ve done a little bit of everything and don’t have particularly deep knowledge in any given area. For the past year or so I have been mostly working on native iPad apps. Mobile has been a really interesting change from testing web apps in a browser. In one sense, there is nothing new under the sun, testing is testing and where the software is doesn’t really change the act. But in another sense, there is a whole new set of constraints to work with: usability is different, you have to think about the hands-on nature of the device, you have to think about dropping internet connections, and power changes. It is a lot of fun. Another area I focus a lot on is tester education. There are very few academic avenues for a person to learn about and develop skill as a software tester, I volunteer instruct BBST courses run by the Association for Software Testing and facilitate sessions for WeekendTesting Americas, and work with peer groups like the Miagi-Do school of testing. All of these are fantastic ways to develop skill in testing.
ITKE: If you weren’t working in IT, you’d be…
JR: This is a tough question, I’ve got lots of different interests and it would be hard to commit to one full time. If I were forced to not work in software anymore I think I’d go radically different and choose some sort of manual trade craft like welding or machinist work. There is something very appealing about the idea of working with your hands and at the end of the day having something real, and useful, and lasting to show for that. A big interest outside of software I have is folk art, things that are aesthetically pleasing but also useful and ingrained in out daily lives. Something like that would play well into that interest.
ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?
JR: I look up to lots of people in the IT biz, but the one that comes to mind first hasn’t been in IT for quite a while; Jerry Weinberg. Jerry has been a programmer, tester, consultant, conference organizer, writer, and change agent for I don’t know how long now. Jerry is a bit like a dandelion, he plants seeds of ideas all over the place. It is not difficult to find his work, so I won’t go on here.
ITKE: How to you see the future of IT developing over the next decade?
JR: I’m fascinated by all things mobile right now. Most phones and tablet devices these days are pretty highly developed in terms of computing power, I imagine that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Imagine a day when everyone carries a smart phone (sounds like today, right?), but these phones can be plugged into a publicly available workstation with a keyboard and monitor. Your workstation is always accessible, it just has to be pulled from your pocket. This mobile workstation idea in combination with already growing publicly available wifi are something I would love to see happen. Convergence has already happened, your phone is your camera, and your music player, and instant message client. I hope growing the capability and usefulness is next.
ITKE: What advice would you give prospective IT workers (say college students)?
JR: What you are doing at school and the grades you are working for are important, but the work you do outside of school is equally important. I think university educations are a good way to develop some foundational technical skills, but can some times fall in a few other areas. For people planning to work in the software world, there are tons of opportunities to get involved in real software projects before graduating. OpenOffice, Mozilla, and WikiMedia (wikipedia) all depend on volunteers working on their open source projects. These projects can be a great way to get real experience in software development projects and also a way to differentiate your self from the rest of your peers entering the workforce. This is a great place for testers too, probably even more so since there are so few traditional education options there.