by Matt Nocera
If I worked at a doorknob factory testing doorknobs, it would be safe to say that at least once a week the doorknob to the front door of my home would turn to ash in my hand.
I’m a QA Engineer in Product Development. Day in and day out, I run various products and software through a gamut of tests. Through hands-on trial and error and automated scripts and tools, my job is to assure the quality of our products in accordance with their respective spec sheets (to be referred to henceforth as “A’n the Q”). Embedded devices, mobile apps, front-end, back-end, websites, on a boat, with a goat; I’ll test it all.
If you’re a developer, I am pretty much the LAST person you want to see five minutes before the workday is over. Thought you were done with your project? Ready to move onto something new? No dice. For every bug closed, I’ll open two more. If there’s a bug lurking around in your code, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll find it. From “your field isn’t centered” to “the audio doesn’t work” to “I can’t log out on leap-day,” I try to cover as many bases as possible. Sometimes I’ll even bust out the packet-sniffer to see what I can “steal.” (Note: for your safety, don’t ever connect to a Wifi access point named “noceratown”)
Nobody’s perfect. No matter how many bugs I find, there are always a few that slip by. This is unfortunate, but it comes with the territory. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a bug-free piece of software. You show me bug-free piece software, I’ll show you a liar. Why do apps and operating systems update all the time? It’s not just new features, unless one of the new features happens to be “less bugs.”
The only time I don’t want to find bugs (software or otherwise) is when I’m at home; this is easier said than done. Every time I buy a new piece of tech, I find bugs–bugs I’m not looking for. I have a set-top media box hooked up to my television that streams media from my home server. If I had a watch, I could set it based on how long into any video it takes to have a hiccup in the audio device followed by a drastic increase in volume (12 minutes). After 60 minutes of continuous playback, the audio / video stream begins to drift out of sync, becoming noticeable at the 80 minute mark. Try to play two files in succession that are each over 1GB in size, a memory leak is exposed and the device does a soft-reset. This is just on one of the devices I use regularly (and it’s name-brand, aka not cheap). I’m not trying to A the Q here, I just want to watch my favorite show about meth manufacturers in ABQ.
I cannot install an application on my phone without cringing. I know what’s going to happen. I’ll find an app that have to have and it will work great when I first try it. Then one day, push will come to shove and I have to use it in a pinch: crash. That lag between turning on my screen and the clock updating on the lock screen that no one sees? I see it.
During a road trip, I once simultaneously turned on my AC and turned up the fan. Don’t do this. I had to reboot my car to turn the AC off.
These things may sound inconsequential to most, or may raise thoughts like “You should buy better stuff.” I’ve tried. It doesn’t matter. I have accepted the fact that from 9 to 5 I’m blessed, but cursed the rest of the time. Have you ever found a bug in a bug-tracker?
About a week after this post, I went into an empty office to do some decibel readings on an audio device. When I closed the door behind me, this happened: