Caplin Tech Talk Series, by the self-elected programme chair ;-)


As QA manager at Caplin, I manage a very busy team of test engineers.

Previous to starting at Caplin, I was the European Test Engineering Manager at Google. While there I gained a few helpful tips to encourage ongoing learning, brainstorming, discussion and a bit of entertainment despite the typical time constraints of a busy testing environment.

One of these ideas is regular tech talks. I find a short mental break from my usual week looking into something completely different can spur a number of interesting ideas and some excellent discussion amongst participants.

The Caplin Tech Talk Series

We introduced Caplin’s Tech Talk series in October. These weekly(ish) talks have proved to be a great success, with attendance from across the company, not just from the test team.

The Tech Talks usually begin with either a live speaker, or a video from the internet, with questions and discussion during and after. While the the videos are valuable, it is often the resulting discussion that makes them worthwhile. We’ve generated a lot of great ideas and the discussion is often animated and thought-provoking. Thankfully, not quite as animated as when the Blues Brothers play “Rawhide” ;-)

At Google, tech talks are done with a live speaker, and often recorded for posterity. Many of these are available on YouTube and Google Video. Other sources of good videos are the Yahoo developer channel, various conference videos (e.g. James LyndsayBrian MarickJames Gosling), TED, etc.

Most of the talks are technical in nature to suit the general audience though we do throw in a couple of more general productivity, business focussed or more general interest talks.

We originally launched the Caplin Tech Talk series with the following few topics, trying to get a mix of things to interest a broad range of people.

We encourage ideas from the across the company, and have often discovered really interesting talks based on these contributions.

Recently we had a “Productivity Theme” where we watched Allen Hutchison’s ‘fireside chat’ with Tim Ferriss, author of the “The 4 Hour Work Week” and discussed some of his concepts including Manufactured Emergencies, Personal Outsourcing and Testable Experiments. Because the topics lend themselves to a wider audience we got a really good turnout and some useful discussion.

Occasionally, after a talk, we will watch something light-hearted for a couple of minutes… e.g. Bobby McFerrin at TED, or “Hitler’s Nightly build fails”

What talks have you seen that were great?

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