Category Archives: Juggling

In Case Of Emergency Press 1

Speaker: Welcome to my writing “In Case Of Emergency Press 1”. My name is Han Toan Lim. I want to share some stories with you.

Facilitator: There is an opportunity to ask questions using K-cards. More information can be found here.

Speaker: In the weeks after the Dutch Juggling Convention in 1992 a new story circulated in the Dutch juggling community. During the Public Show some people had paid an undesirable visit to the camping site. There were no guards.
“Right after the convention I would be camping. The convention [in Delft] looked like a good rehearsal, then someone made some cuts in my tent.”, a juggler told me with a bit of disappointment.
Another juggler was really upset:
“They took my knife from my tent.”
Somehow this unwanted visit was not anticipated. Over the years the story was shared less and less, but it still stung me.

Now it is time for a flash forward. Several projects were weeks from the deployment. I had pressed for a meeting and finally my project manager had agreed. During the preparation of this meeting I had merged 3 Deployment Plans of the three systems on the same day. I had still doubts about the completeness of this resulting plan. All suppliers and other involved parties of the client were present. I was the chairman.

I began with stating the goal of the meeting: everyone should know, what and when they should do in order to deploy 3 systems on the same day. On the screen I showed a gantt chart made in a spreadsheet program. It was an updated version of the team lead of system administration. The time blocks for the deployments of each system was shown. Other time blocks were for preparation and wrap ups. Then it was time to go one level deeper. On the screen the latest version of the Deployment Plan was shown by me in a spreadsheet. The first activities took me some time to let the attendees make themselves familiar with the structure of the plan.

Facilitator: We’ve got a red card.
Attendee 95: What do you mean with “make themselves familiar” with the Deployment Plan?
Speaker: The Deployment Plan was a big table in a spreadsheet. So the size could distract the reader. So I first explained the heading from left to right. Then I went slowly through the first action. So the attendees could listen or read the information with enough time for reflection. Does this answer your question?
Attendee 95: Yes
Facilitator: I see no more red cards. So you can continue.

Speaker: The following pattern arised. I read the action aloud and made sure, that the person, who was assigned the task, fully understood the task. I questioned or let it questioned in different ways:

  • Do you really understand this action?
  • Are other actions needed?
  • Are the actions planned in the right order?

I preferred, that other participants voiced their thoughts. This was beneficial for the group interaction. It was not my one man show after all.

Let me focus on one particular action, restoring the backup. If the deployment would be stopped, then a rollback of the old systems had to take place. So a backup should be restored. But it takes a while to make a good one. To be more precisely one working day. So people had to be instructed, that the systems could only be used for retrieving information and not for storing new information. Some of these actions had not been planned in.

Because no abstract actions had to be discussed, it was relatively easy to describe the specific actions. If there was agreement about the action, then I immediately updated the deployment plan on the screen. If the description of the action was still ambiguous, then people had the opportunity to clarify it.

Then came the part of the failed deployment. Some attendees were reluctant to talk about it. There might be different reasons: the actual steps for a successful deployment were discussed in depth, so they probably would not be needed. Another guess of mine was, that after 2 hours of meeting people were tired.

Afterwards I got the compliment: “You did well.”

This writing I would like to end with a Lesson Used. So time for a flashback.

In 2002 I went to one of the organisers of the Dutch Juggling Convention in Amsterdam. He told me:
“I’ve got some flowers for you.”
Before I could digest the information, he continued with:
“Right after the Public Show we asked the volunteer coordinators on stage. We called Nienke [and gave her flowers].”
Then I said:
“The other volunteer coordinator is Han Toan Lim. He is not here. He’s watching the camping site.”
He waited a moment.
“They gave you the biggest round of applause.”
At that moment I was just relieved, that no bad things had taken place at the convention’s camping site.

I thank for your attention.

Facilitator: You can ask questions using this form. I have already 4 green cards.

[To be continued here.]

A look behind the scenes – In Runö

When I mentioned at Let’s Test Conference in  2015, that I came from the Netherlands, the following question was likely to be asked:
“Do you know Huib Schoots?”
My standard answer was:
“Yes. And he knows me.”

At Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam I was waiting to check in my suitcase. Behind my back I heard: “Hey ugly man” I turned around. Ready to confront this man. Huib was looking at me with his characteristic wide grin.

When I arrived at the belt to pick up my suitcase at Arlanda Airport, Huib was talking with Bill Matthews:
“Do you know him?”
“The juggler.”
Huub confirmed that with an
“A huh”.

Shifting gears

On Sunday May 24 I arrived for the Let’s Test conference in Runö. In the conference centre one of the first testers I talked to, was Henrik Andersson.
“You asked me to do an extra juggling workshop. When would you like me to give this workshop?”
“This evening would be great.”
I agreed. On Twitter I had already seen a suitcase of Paul Holland packed with games.

That evening I packed 6 devilsticks with 12 hand sticks. When I arrived at the hall, Henrik saw me. He smiled and gave a thumbs up. I chose the bar room, because there was a lot of traffic. The chance, that people would join me juggling, was great. Henrik joined in. Even a man with a ponytail started juggling. The following moment I noticed, that Michael Bolton was juggling with one of my devilsticks. I did not believe my eyes. I thought about one of my advices in my conference workshop:
Don’t fear your peer.

I was so focused on my workshop, that I forgot to exercise answering the standard questions like

  • What is the name of your company?
  • What kind of products or services does your firm offer?

I was completely in the presentation mode: I had not practiced my small talk English. The proper translation of the Dutch word patiënt is patient?!

Flirting with disaster

On Monday morning I could not sleep any more. It was the early sun rise. So I opened my laptop to add another bug for my exercise. For some reason testers like to find bugs. The modification went well. Within 30 minutes I had finished it and tested the program. The last thing, that I had to do, was uploading the file to a server. I opened a connection. I got confirmation, that the upload was successful followed by a cryptic message about a data connection. I looked on the server: the old file was removed and it was not replaced by the new one.

At that very moment I realised, that I had made a major error. I assumed, that the connection was safe. So I did not take any precautionary measures like renaming the file, which had to be removed. So I gave it another few tries to no avail. In plain English I had just ruined an exercise.

Then I looked on the internet. The plausible cause was the firewall of the hotel computer network, which did not support uploading files. So I used my smartphone (with a mobile provider) instead to upload the file and everything was all right at the end.

Speaker‘s Corner

After the Monday morning sessions I was tired. So I went to my hotel room and had a long nap. Then I returned to the main building. I saw Ruud Cox, who was listening to Huib Schoots. The latter was talking about the building blocks of his workshop the next day and the time estimates of these blocks.

During his workshop on Tuesday Huib said:
“I always ask feedback.” And
“Tell every day to a colleague, what you have done that day. ”
“If you cannot find someone, place a rubber duck on your desk and start talking.” 

So I went to an empty table. Then I noticed, that more speakers were gathered in the same room: Jean-Paul Varwijk, Joep Schuurkens, Michael Bolton, Laurent Bossavit (?). Probably improving their talks. I went through my slides of “What I learned from juggling as a tester” on my smart phone and juggled a little bit.

Sharing the fun

My facilitator was Duncan Nisbet. The familiar question popped up: “How shall I introduce you?”I mentioned 3 things, which should be included. Then I referred to this blog for additional information. Then Duncan introduced me as a “good storyteller”.

I had never told him a story before. I was just sharing some on this blog. Anyways … 

Then I started with a story about a boy missing a foot and most of his fingers, who wanted to learn juggling from me.

On my ride to Runö I was sharing a cab with Bill Matthews, Chris Grant, and Dan Billing. The latter said something about the inner tester. The following morning I knew I had the perfect example for a story. Just before the keynote of Ben Simo I asked Dan permission to use this single sentence in my workshop. He agreed. On the last evening of the conference I told him, how I used it. This lead to a wonderful conversation about “needs, values and relationships”.

There’s a mismatch

On one of my sheets I am wearing a dark and a white sock. Nobody mentioned it.  Maybe you do notice now.

On the other hand two unexpected bugs surfaced during my exercise: there was a huge error in a sentence. The second one was, that my exercise was not usable on an iPhone. I forgot the portability test.

Oops sorry

During my workshop Henrik Andersson had entered the room. I was so concentrated on my presentation, that it looked to me he appeared out of nothing. I started talking about discovering a juggling trick. On the sheet the following text was shown:
“Create a framework to correct errors”.

“I did not discover this trick [helicopter], because my framework was too strict.”
Then I apologised to Henrik:
“Yesterday evening I gave a workshop. Henrik Andersson was present.
[Turning my attention to Henrik] If you cannot learn the helicopter, it is, because I gave you a too rigid framework. So I apologise for this.”

A question, which back fired

I showed a sheet with frequently asked questions about juggling to the audience. One of the questions was: “Do you juggle with fire?” I repeated this question aloud, followed by:
“This question was asked right before this workshop.”
One of the delegates got a red face and laughed hard.

Thanks for the workshop

While I waited for my cab, Kristjan Uba came personally to me to thank me for the workshop. I recognised him, because the evening before he was intensely observing Tobias Fors (?) and me solving the dice game. This was hosted by Michael Bolton. Kristjan wanted to learn the finer details of coaching this game.

Trying to look friendly I searched my memory for this man. Luckily Kristjan helped me by telling about juggling the devilstick himself. Then I noticed the ponytail. It was the juggling workshop on Sunday evening. So I juggled with 2 famous testers and a speaker.

An Interview With a Juggling Speaker – The way to Runö part 4

Interviewer: Hello, welcome to Mindful Tester News. I am Han Toan Lim. Today I have the pleasure to interview Han Toan Lim, who happens to be me.
[Turning his attention to interviewee] Hello Han Toan. Thank you for coming to your own room.
Interviewee: It is my pleasure. Nothing has changed in this room since the last time I was here.

Interviewer: The reason for this interview is your workshop for Let’s Test next week. The readers would love to read, what you are doing in the following days.
Interviewee: At the moment I am still modifying my workshop. The slides are almost ready, but my story is constantly changing. I try to add jokes and that is quite challenging.

Interviewer : The name of your workshop is What I learned from juggling as a tester. That is an intriguing subject. I noticed my self, that learning to juggle has a lot in common with learning to test.
Interviewee: I fully agree with you. It is about becoming a craftsman.

Interviewer: I just got a signal from the director (or my self), that it is time to finish this monologue. So I have one last question. What kind of audience for the workshop you are aiming at?
Interviewee: The silent and concentrated testers.
Interviewer [looking surprised]: So you are allowed to say not a single word during the workshop?!
Interviewee [nods]
Interviewer [makes a fist and extends his index finger for closed lips]
Interviewee [smiles and puts thumb up]
Interviewer [smiles back, extends right arm to shake hands and then realizes, that he has only one right hand.]