BBST Bug Advocacy under Incredibly Difficult Personal Circumstances

image credit:

BBST courses are known to be tough and they ask for a lot of quality reasoning. The workload should not be underestimated. After having spent a fantastic time during the Foundations course, I thought it would be a good idea to continue with one of the other two courses.

It appears that - although there is no requirement for it - most people choose Bug Advocacy as their second course (Why is that so?). I was excited, because I knew that some of the people I did the Foundations course with, would also join.

Bug Advocacy teaches you that writing bug reports is a persuasive activity, you need to make a case for your findings and convincingly explain, why a certain bug is worthy to be fixed. There are many dimensions to be considered.

Off we went into the first week.

It is advisable to carefully plan the BBST courses during times, which are not too busy with other obligations in order to free your mind for the course. This can be difficult as unexpected things can come up any time. In the first week I had a workshop with my team at eBay in Paris. Hard work, and very nice, because Paris - among other qualities - offers quite a variety of gastronomically refreshing opportunities.

I skipped the first quiz on purpose. Now, I admit that I am opinionated against the BBST quizzes. There are many excellent elements in the BBST courses, the quizzes are not among them. I regard them to be of minor value. Yes, they are meant to provide feedback on how well one follows the lecture videos, and they try to evaluate whether or not the students have understood what Cem was talking about.

My criticism on the quizzes is, that because of their nature - multiple choice questionnaires - they do not allow any subtlety and the answers are either right or wrong. I do not agree with that. Whatever answer one gives, if one is able to defend it with convincing arguments, it is not necessarily wrong.

When I came back from Paris, we were in full swing of the course and there were many exciting exercises on the subject of bug advocacy. What I enjoyed most, was the high focus on evaluating the quality of bug reports, and, on a further meta-level, evaluating the evaluations of bug reports. These are exercises, which help to become really good at arguing about the quality of writing.

Then, at the end of the first week, both our sons fell ill. Our older one (Marvin, 7 years) had a not too serious winter cold, but the little one (Nelson) - defenseless at his young age of 9 months - really caught something nasty. As it is, he acted as a biological petri dish, and so the germs multiplied. My wife and I hardly slept as he was coughing his way through the night.

In the following week he became weaker and weaker, and then it was shockingly clear to us that something serious was happening here. When we went to the hospital, he was immediately put into isolation and received additional oxygen and heavy medication. This is devastating to parents, as seeing ones own children sick is undescribably troublesome.

Bug Advocacy continued its course and in between hospital visits (my wife stayed there permanently), organizing the bigger one's school schedule, cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner, keeping eBay stuff up and running, I struggled to find time for the BBST exercises. I was close to quitting the course.

But I didn't until after 5 days in hospital the doctors declared that our son might have caught tuberculosis. Now I know what people experience, when they say that they lost the ground beneath their feet. It is a feeling of utter helplessness and complete despair.

It was already close to the end of the third week, I had under tremendous difficulties finished all my assignments and there was only the exam week to go. I just could not continue any more. It was too much to handle. I wrote on the moodle page that I stop the course immediately. I also cancelled my session at Agile Testing Days and every other non-family duty. We had other priorities now.

A couple of days later the suspicion of tuberculosis had blessedly not materialized and our son was getting better from day to day. Raimond Sinivee contacted me on Skype and and in a remarkably cautious and supporting fashion encouraged me to maybe still try to do the exam. I honestly had not taken into consideration to do that, but his message changed my mind. So that is what I did.

Our son was released from hospital after 10 days and now he is slowly recovering. It is great to see him smile and play again.

As I wrote in the introduction, BBST courses are hard and one should plan accordingly. And sometimes life just comes along and performs a test. I am not sure if I passed, but I am sure that the multitudes of pressures I experienced was close to what I can handle. I know my limits now.