Introducing Mark On Task

It’s about time I explain what’s going on here with my blog and in my side career as an avid podcaster. For those who aren’t aware, outside of my full-time work as a software tester and performance engineer I also co-produce the podcast PerfBytes ( For the last five years with my co-host James Pulley we’ve made a lasting contribution  to current and future performance professionals. And we’ve grown the show enough to support James’ own production for News of The Damned and the start of a 1:1 interview show with the Performance Engineering Cafe. PerfBytes has been fantastic fun and will continue to grow with new contributors and expanding presence at live events, conferences and exciting episodes. But many people do ask me: “Mark, when are you going to start your own podcast?” And so I will.

Mark On Task will attempt to cover topics outside of performance testing. There are more important and engaging topics to contemplate than performance testing and engineering. Outside of the work we do, we have experiences as workers, managers and leaders in contemporary techno-culture. I like having conversations about these other, more important things. We’ll talk about our relationships, worker treatment, diversity and inclusion, ethics, morality and also: fresh fruit. It’s part of a balanced diet. Aside from the fresh fruit, this will be very different for me. Interviewing about topics that have absolutely nothing to do with me or performance stuff.

I have an idea for different kind of format for this show. Sort of an interview-style with twist including a game of chance. Each guest will be asked to choose a random number which corresponds to a pre-determined list of topics. They must respond with a story or insight from their own experience about that topic. The guest will also have options in the event of a complete standstill. They may choose once to pass on the topic, they may choose to punt the topic to me for a reply, or they may choose a wildcard where I choose a topic completely out the air. This is not unlike the conversations that evolve out of the random tangents discovered during late-night single-malt scotch tastings I’ve had at various conferences around the world.

Guests. How will i do something different to select guests for the show? Let’s keep this succinct: if we’ve met in person and shared a drink or meal you will be invited to join me for an episode. Of course, you know that I am employing this simple policy in the hopes that more people will invite me out for a drink or meal in the future.

And finally the last different thing about this podcast is: it will be community-driven and listener-supported directly from the Patreon page ( I am agreeing to put all proceeds towards a year’s end donation to a charity as selected by a survey of supporters to the show.

Mark on Task
Note: the name of the show "Mark On Task” is carefully taken from the naming of a painting by my wife Dr. Martha Hope Carey - artist, sociologist, researcher and also the sexy Irish voice of PerfBytes. This painting has been hanging in my various offices since it was first born to the canvas and is an inspiration to me to be true to myself. You can see more of her work at

Insightful Testing at TestBash 3

To test, or not to test, that is the choice: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the rigors of requirements-based testing or to freshly apply contexts to our thinking and by awareness prevail? Sure, we make choices in our testing practices leveraging our prior experiences and training on the discipline. How we understand ourselves in the engagement of making choices about testing is essential to fully developing your ninja skills as a tester. Beyond your typical learning about exploratory, risk-based and session-based testing techniques, this session will seek to help you take three steps into a more complete understanding of your decision-making as a tester.

  • Step one: test choices guided by externally defined influences like models, techniques, tools guided by Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Step two: test choices based on our conscious, internally defined influences and intentions in the fashion of Star Trek.
  • Step three: test choices based on our awareness of subconscious, intuitively defined motivation at the mercy of a spinning cat.
Special thanks to the good people of the Ministry of Testing and Software Testing Club for hosting TestBash in Brighton, UK and inviting me to present at their awesome event!

The Art of Performance Analysis

I am very happy to ask you to join me for a pre-conference tutorial on "The Art of Performance Analysis" at the upcoming CAST 2014 conference in New York City, New York. In the past few weeks I've had a great time teaching this workshop at different conferences; each time receiving more feedback and updates to the class.

Abstract: It's typical that newcomers to performance and load testing getting the basics of test scripting and execution mastered in a few months and then can provide value to your project and company by simply delivering test results. However, if that's where your skills suddenly end and other engineers seem disconnected from your efforts, it's time for you to learn more about performance analysis and remediation. The real purpose and value of your work is making improvements and driving change to the technology and the company through the extension of your performance test results.  In this workshop you will learn how to take the next steps with your performance testing skills by learning new techniques for advanced performance analysis, deep-dives into bottlenecks, and proving out the remedies to the problems you've identified.