Software QA Engineer Tops “Happiest Jobs” List

Super Happy Fun Time!When asked to think about the happiest job in America, does your own job come to mind? What job do you think is the happiest job? When asking this question, did these positions come to mind: Customer Service Representative, Accountant, Bank Teller or even Warehouse Manager?  Well, according to a survey posted on Forbes.com those jobs are listed in the top 20 of “The Happiest Jobs in America.”  The study took nearly a year to compile and coming in at #1 for the Happiest Job in the US is the Software Quality Assurance Engineer!

“Since we tend to spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, our work happiness is a huge factor in our overall happiness,” says CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge.

Well quoted by Heidi Golledge, as this statement is very true.  I spend more time in the office and with my coworkers than I do my own home and family.  So if I work with people who share the same interests as me, as well as enjoy the work I do, work isn’t necessarily work anymore, it becomes more of a second home.

CareerBliss also found that many people appreciate their jobs more in a down economy. “As the job market is improving every day, we see that employees are looking to evaluate if they are happy in their current position and if their company is providing the type of culture they identify with,” Golledge says. “This year will be a very important year for employers as employees look at a possible career or job change to improve their satisfaction at work.”

More than 100,000 workers took part in the survey and rated factors such as workplace happiness and environment, job resources, co-worker relationships and daily tasks on a sale of 1 to 5. In the end, Software Quality Assurance Engineers came out on top.

With an index score of 4.24, software quality assurance engineers said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for. They’re also fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses. …

Golledge says, “In past studies, we have noted that the long hours and intense demands on software engineers’ time caused them to rank as less than happy.  However, we are happy to report that software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

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Where’s the Cinnabon?… or, Will Indoor LBS Hit it Big in 2012?

‘Tis the season to prognosticate.

We’re 17 days away from the new year, and far before Auld Lang Syne begins playing and we pretend to know the words (after all the champagne, who can remember the lyrics we optimistically Google’d the day before anyways?), we’re pondering what changes are in store for us the next twelve months.

In a whitepaper released by ABI Research this week, their tech analysts took a collective look into the crystal ball for 2012 and (in their words) “have drawn some bold lines in the sand on a plethora of top-of-mind topics.”

But instead of predicting what WOULD happen in the mobile and telecom space, they took a different spin on the usual list and forecasted what WOULDN’T happen.  Nice twist.  (And a really good read.)

One of their more interesting predictions for those of us in software testing is by Patrick Connolly, Senior Analyst of Telematics and Navigation:  “Indoor location will NOT become commonplace in 2012.” 

It’s easy to see how this could be true…but also surprising.

After all, for as many articles that have been written about the technological challenges in making Indoor Location Based Services (LBS) a reality, there has been an equal amount of big name, big buzz announcements about it over the past few months.  There are dozens of industry-leading companies—including Apple, Navteq, Qualcomm and Nokia—tackling the challenge from every angle.

There are even some major apps launching to give Indoor LBS a jolt from vision to reality.  For instance, Google announced on their Mobile blog in November that the new Google Maps 6.0 gives users (on Android OS 2.1 mobile devices) the ability to Map the Vast Indoors, vis-à-vis:

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Testers: Is it Time to Reinvent the Wheel?

Our latest guest post comes from Jim “JR” Harris, Principal Engineer and Owner of Arrowhead Computer Consulting, and one of the most entertaining tester bloggers out there (you’ll see what I mean shortly). You can find more of his writings at qatechtips.blogspot.com. In this post, he addresses why the value created by testers is not always fully recognized in the world of business. Enjoy!

In the October issue of the uTest newsletter, Matt Johnston led off with the title “Are Testers the next Endangered Species” – and I blew my stack!  Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I was furious or anything like that, but I will admit that I did bite the heads off of about a dozen or so thick framing nails before I could compose a coherent reply.

And I let him have it – with both guns blazing! – eager to defend the honor and integrity of those of us in the Software QA community.

“Oh, it’s the idiots in Management who don’t recognize the need for quality software!”

“Those idiots in Marketing ALWAYS leave us with too much to do and too short a time-line to do it!”

“If the developers would send us software releases that were at least testable; we wouldn’t be in this bind all the time!”

Now Matt has a sick and twisted sense of humor, not unlike my own.  So instead of getting offended, he offered me the chance to express MY views on his bully pulpit.  “Ok Einstein, you’re so smart?  YOU write the next one!”  No he really didn’t say that, but his invitation was clear:  Put up or shut up.

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Old Bug Up To New Tricks

SCMagazine reported this week that researchers in Malta have discovered a decade-old vulnerability, present in all versions of Windows since 2000.  This bug can cause PCs to crash instantaneously and without warning, as well as reeling the compromised machine into a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.  This exploit is only dangerous if the user is duped into running an app with the malicious code (according to Paul Gafa, CTO of 2X Software).


The bug was discovered while Gafa was writing a software testing app:

“You can be the least privileged user on the system and still crash it,” Gafa said. “I believe it is very easy for Microsoft to sort it out. They just need to validate arguments passed to Windows APIs.” (source: SC Magazine)

Microsoft is currently aware of the defect and responded with this insight:

“Our initial assessment of the report is that malicious code would have to already be running or a user would have to be able to run a specially crafted application to cause the system to crash. In either case, the system has already been compromised or the user has rights to logon to the system.”

I’m curious to hear if anyone has other stories of old bugs causing new problems or vulnerabilities?

STPCon 2009 Kicks Off with Tester Meetup on Wed, Oct 21st

Calling all New EnglanSTPCon 2009d QA and software testing professionals!

We will be co-hosting a free tester meetup with STP (Software Test & Performance) as part of the kickoff reception for their big event, STPCon 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge.  This meetup will be Wednesday, October 21 at 5:30pm.

Join us for a great evening of networking that will be held in the STPCon exhibits area. There, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with your peers, connect with execs from uTest and STP, discover new products and features and talk to the experts who created them.

Another great perk for attendees is that you’ll have the opportunity to discuss the latest and greatest trends with industry leaders such as James Bach and Michael Bolton.

If you’re around, it would be great to meet you in person!  To register, please visit: http://utest2009stpcon.eventbrite.com/.

Testing the Limits with Andrew Muns, President of STP (part 2)

This is the second half of our recent interview with Andrew Muns (@amuns), the president of Software Test & Performance.  Today, we’ll cover his thoughts on how testers can get more respect, predicting STP’s future, and who would win in a fight between James and Jon Bach.  If you missed it, check out the first half of the interview.

uTest: Testing is often viewed as a behind-the-scenes profession. What can testers do to bring their Andrew_Munscraft to light and make sure others understand the value?

A: Upper management at most companies may never truly understand what a test department contributes, especially since a contribution by definition goes unnoticed (i.e., something worked as expected.)  To me this sounds like a cultural issue: how to translate the value of testing into manager-speak.  Managers like things they can measure, so speaking their language means associating a measurable value on something vital but difficult to observe.

Software Test & Performance magazine has written many features on this question, but as a manager more than a tester, here is one argument I like (that applies more to consumer-facing applications): explain QA as a marketing function.  How much does your company spend on marketing?  Why would testing merit less investment?  I bet your company would spend a lot to spread positive word-of-mouth from users.  Shouldn’t management be willing to spend the same amount or more to avoid negative word-of-mouth?  As United Airlines learned after breaking a customer’s guitar, negative word of mouth can be viral.

Critically, neither this argument, nor any other, will be made if testers themselves don’t make it!

uTest: Is James Bach really as smart as we think he is?  Who would win in a fight between him and his brother, Jon?

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Testing the Limits with Andrew Muns, President of STP (part 1)

In the latest installment of our “Testing the Limits” series, we sat down with Andrew Muns (@amuns) the President of Software Test & Performance (of STP Magazine and STPCon fame), to discuss how testers are perceived by execs and developers, the future of media companies, and the changes that are underway at STP.  This is the first half of our chat; check back Thursday for part two.

uTest:  STPCon is being held this October in Cambridge, MA… what do you have in store for the attendees this year?

Andrew: This is the first conference that will have been planned start STP_Collaborativeto finish by Redwood Collaborative Media and was designed according to our very simple philosophy: “ask your audience what they want and give it to them.”  The show’s program was designed largely  based on a survey in which we asked two things, what topics are most important to you and who do you want to hear from.

The most requested topics among our readers were Test Automation, Performance Testing, Test Management and Agile.  We’ve built a five track program with specialized training and workshops for each of these four areas, plus a track we call “FutureTest.”  The concept of FutureTest is to take a look ahead to emerging tools, technologies and practices – to help our members stay on the cutting edge of the testing industry.

We’ve got only all-stars here (check out the full roster) plus a keynote by a NASA astronaut, Mike Mullane, who will talk about leadership and the organizational culture that led to one of the most tragic QA mistakes in history: the O-ring of the space shuttle Challenger.  Michael Bolton, will then use this story as a launching point (pardon the pun) to talk about test leadership.  It’s going to be a phenomenal event.

uTest:  You recently launched STPCollaborative.com. Tell us the purpose of this site and what’s so different about it.

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Testing the Limits with James Whittaker (part two)

This is the second half of our recent interview with testing guru, James Whittaker.  Today, we’ll cover his new book, his new gig and what he sees over the horizon in the world of software testing.  If you haven’t read it already, check out the first half of the interview.

uTest:  And when all is said and done what will be the professional accomplishment you’ll look back on with the most pride?

JW:  Creating an actual discipline around software quality. Note I said quality and not testing. I want software projects as a whole to run more smoothly and more predictably. I really think that’s what software testing is all about — reducing the uncertainty of software development and finding ways to muscle errors out of the process. A process in which mistakes are harder than doing the right thing is the ultimate goal. We can’t eliminate them, but we can make doing the right thing to be the easiest thing to do.

uTest:  What’s your first assignment at Google?

JW:  To raise the level of testing precision and diligence. Google has a lot of smart testers, my job is to help mold them into a serious fighting force and let our bugs beware. But this isn’t so much an individual commitment. Google has a culture of collaboration that I am fascinated by as a Noogler.

We share offices (which might explain their interview strategy), inhabit common areas, collaborate constantly and work as a community. If I am successful, there will be many people who can take credit and if I fail, I won’t go down alone! I think the whole free food thing is at the heart of this as food is often the centerpiece for bringing people together. Lots of work gets done while your mouth is full. I hope to succeed before I have to buy bigger clothes.

uTest:  Rumor has it that you have a new book coming out.  What’s it about and when will it hit Amazon’s shelves?

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uTest Relaunch in the News!

The word is out!  With the launch of our revamped website, a new “Meet the Testers” application and Tester Forums, last week uTest made significant strides in turning our crowd of 16,000+ QA professionals into an interactive community.

Here’s what the media had to say:

  • crowdsourcingformatted1Jeff Howe, author of best-selling book Crowdsourcing & contributing editor at Wired Magazine, twittered the news to his 2,000 followers calling us out as a Company to Watch.

Other notable posts at  StickyMinds.com, the Cloud Architect, and MSNBC.com.

Let us know what you think about the new site!

uTest Hitting The Road This Week

This evening, Doron Reuveni will be joining a new meetup here in Boston called the Ultra Light Startups. The meetup is a resource for entrepreneurs to share best practices for launching tech startups. The topic is near andultralight dear to our hearts: Crowdsourcing. If you’re in the neighborhood, come join us at Boston University at 595 Comm. Ave. Doors open at 6pm! Questions the panelists (Local Motors, Acquia, GeniusRocket and uTest) will tackle:

  • What is crowdsourcing?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Why is it a disruptive model?
  • What are the most effective ways to build communities?

Doron will also be flying down to Orlando to present at STAREAST 2009 on Thursday morning. His presentation will introduce this new era of community-based software testing and delve into how companies can launch higher quality apps while staying within budget through crowdsourcing. Challenges like shorter release cycles, increased customer expectations, smaller budgets and fewer testing resources are forcing us to rethink our stareastQA methods.

Doron will discuss how crowdsourced testing helps to meet these challenges head on. Here’s your chance to take the kids to Disney and be a part of the largest and most advanced testing forum to keep you up on the latest trends, technologies, and strategies in the industry today. Shoot us a note if you’ll be down there!