Upcoming Events:

Each year I try to reflect on the previous year and write about some of the things good/bad that I did or didn’t do.

2020 was horrible due to COVID19, and whilst many people have struggled with motivation and getting things done, this wasn’t something I’d really struggled with in the past and didn’t expect to feel the way I did due to the global crisis. Much like everyone else there have been days I don’t want to get up or get dressed and much like leaving this December 2020 blog post until February 2021, I find myself just putting things off which isn’t really like me. This blog post is an effort to get me back into the swing of things and start 2021 with a bit more focus and motivation.

I had started the year by creating a Trello board back in January 2020 which I had funnily enough named ‘Mission Impossible 2020’, and it certainly was quite challenging. As the year went on I tried to keep myself motivated and added little challenges to the Trello board like speak at 1 meet-up or speak at 1 conference as I didn’t want the whole year to be a total write-off and stop doing the things I really enjoy.

Despite the year’s challenges, I still managed to drag myself out of bed, get out of my pyjamas, and motivate myself to get a few things done which I’m really pleased about, but again I’ve also struggled to get a few things done which I’d really hoped to achieve before the end of last year.

The good stuff:

  • I started the year with an exciting new project, I wanted to invite the testing community from all around the world to contribute to a free book called Around the world with 80 software testers. The book is just over halfway complete, sadly with the events which followed in the following month’s people rightly so had bigger priorities to deal with and so I will continue with this book when the world starts to become a bit more normal again..
  • January Applitools introduced their first hackathon where participants had to automate a few UI tests and then do the same using their tool. Fortunately I was one of the silver winners of the competition which was a lot of fun. Keep an eye out on the Applitools blog for future competitions.
  • In February I decided to sit the ISTQB foundation exam which I passed. Whilst the exam was ok, it is probably more suited to those who are new to testing and want to understand some core concepts or terminology. The problem is you cannot try the intermediate or advanced exams without doing foundation - maybe I’ll try these at a later point and share how I got on.
  • We moved to a bigger house. Just before Christmas 2019 we had some issues in our house and so needed to move out for at least 6 months so work could be done.
  • March I spoke at the TechTalk Wales meetup at the Backbase offices in Cardiff.
  • I became an associate with EqualExperts. I’d been a big fan of EqualExperts for over 5 years as they’d supported me with meetups and conferences I had organised so I was very aware of who they were and what they do and so it was a pleasure to be able to join them.
  • I started a new contract with EqualExperts to work with HMRC in a new and challenging role for the next 12 months.
  • Graham Ellis and myself discussed the idea of Talking the world with 80 software testers. We thought it would be great to have a chat with some of the contributors from Around the world with 80 software testers to talk more on the topics they wrote about and record the sessions for people to watch. You can view the recordings here. Thanks to Lena, Toyer, and Lalit for taking part with us.
  • I spoke at a conference remotely. This was the first time I had taken part in an on-line conference and I found it quite strange.
  • May - July we finally managed to get all the issues resolved in our home which involved ripping out and replacing a kitchen, bathroom and redecorating/carpeting the whole house. Just when we thought we had finished all the work we discovered we needed a new boiler - the joys! We have since decided to rent out the house to somebody rather than return so we could stay in a bigger home for the time being.
  • In September I decided to take part in a joint blog post with Laveena, a11y for all. I’d not done something like this before and it was a lot of fun discussing and sharing different ideas.
  • I took part in a discussion panel at TestCon 2020 which due to the circumstances had to be done online.
  • October MoT held their first online Automation Week. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to fully take part myself and so instead reached out in their forum to see if someone would like to pair. Despite having never met before I paired with Beth who was looking for some help. We submitted our entry for the API challenge and got selected to speak at the event.
  • I wrote 2 sponsored blog posts for TestProject.io. Striking a Balance Between Manual and Automated Testing and Should developers write any of the automation.
  • I created the 12 days of testmas. I reached out to some software testers in the community to ask if they would help me try and set some test challenges during the 12 days of Christmas. If you are interested, the challenges can still be attempted up until the 25th December 2021 when I will introduce some new ones :)

The not so good stuff:

  • I decided to not run the 6th year of SwanseaCon 2020. Looking back I probably could have done an online version but at the time it didn’t feel like it was a good option for me.
  • In March 2020, as my contract with a current client was coming to an end the world went into lockdown. I found myself in a position I’d not experience for over 15 years, I found myself out of work. Fortunately this only lasted for 6 weeks before I found more work but I found that very short space of time demotivating and quite stressful.
  • Due to the struggles of being in lock down I sadly couldn’t continue with the talking the world with 80 software testers sessions alongside Graham. I really enjoyed it and would love to do more of this stuff with him in the future as well as some of the other ideas we had, but at the time I found myself struggling to organise my time and also to motivate myself and so sadly had to stop.
  • Again I turned down a handful of speaking opportunities, a few of which I really wanted to speak at. I really struggled during the year to motivate myself and on days didn’t feel like even getting dressed.
  • Partly due to motivation and everyone being locked indoors with no quiet space, I still hadn’t recorded my course for MoT. I’ve now made a start thanks to Mark, keep an eye out for it later on in the year :) !
  • I didn’t blog anywhere near as much as I would have liked to have.
  • I couldn’t attend meetups and conferences which I really miss.


Whilst I’m not totally happy with how I got on in 2020 I appreciate the things I was able to do despite the global crisis and the people who helped and supported me to do those things - thank you.