Month: July 2014

Extreme participation marketing

Don’t get me wrong, as an agency person I am all for enthusiastic participation in marketing the client’s product, and as a committed testing specialist, I am all for putting my money where my mouth is, but in the following article from The Times, journalist Catherine Philp buys a bulletproof jacket from tailor Miguel Caballero and then allows him to shoot her in the stomach.

You pays your money and you takes your choice

Excellent article in today’s Guardian technology supplement by Bruce Schneier, security technologist and author. His hypothesis is that cars are well designed and software is not. This is because car manufacturers face liabilities if they make mistakes but software vendors do not. Further, both the market and the law support the status quo. He writes:

Befehl ist Befehl

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.
Source: Wikipedia, Nuremberg Defense

The QA Department often hears the phrase “but it is signed-off” used by staff & clients to defend the indefensible. At this point, it is the QA Department’s job to persuade the team to do the right thing.

The Eighth P in Quality

Why would we not want to include packaging in the marketing mix for Quality Assurance?

Packaging. It is very important how the product is presented to the customer. The packaging is often the first contact that a customer has with it. Packaging can also be considered as a subfield of promotion and/or if the primary intent of the packaging is to protect the product during shipping, as a subfield of placement.


Gonzo QA: Blast from the past #2 – Social evolution

Dateline: London, March 2009

“I’m in. Start Outlook, MSN Messenger (isn’t the new Windows Live Messenger limp?), Yahoo! And Gmail. Much Spam has arrived overnight, so I take a quick look at what’s getting through; is there anything new or clever of which we should take note? No. There never is, but you never know; inspiration comes from the strangest places. Much of the bulk-mail we sent out last night has come through as well, so I take a quick look at that while I’m on. It’s far too late to correct anything that has gone out, but it’s never too late to spot mistakes and learn. Here’s an unusually long newsletter from one of our clients that, yes! It has the body copy repeated twice. Fortunately it’s not one of ours. Ha! It’s tempting to dump on the other agency that sent it but discretion is the better part of valour. Unless you’re pitching for new business, of course.”
Source: Gonzo QA: Fear and loathing in the morning, December 2006.

Since then my sign-in ritual has got worse. I ditched MSN Messenger in favour of Windows Live Messenger some time ago. I now enjoy Version 2009 which does the same old but in must-have full colour, yowsah. To Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, I have added occasional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter checks. Social networking arrived between then and now and I have fallen for it big time. Prim and proper LinkedIn was first, a low-key romance quickly maturing into a monthly assignation in an anonymous hotel satisfying both our needs. Then came flighty Facebook. A whirlwind courtship was followed by a rude awakening; did it have to be so all-consuming? My reaction to it’s first makeover was disappointment. It has just had a second but I think we have gone our separate ways now; we have grown too far apart for anything more than occasional drinks after work to catch up on mutual friends and talk about the old days. Twitter and I circled each other for some time before I felt able to make any kind of commitment. I am currently post-infatuation, resigned to the fact that without a business model, this pretty butterfly must surely die. In the meantime, I tweet 10 times a day; any more and I will go blind.


First posted: 14 March 2009 on

Gonzo QA: Blast from the past #1

Dateline: London, March 2009

“I arrive at work somewhat frazzled. I had set off an hour early in order to storm up a mountain of work before the mist had lifted but events have conspired to make me arrive at my desk 30 minutes later than usual. I log on to my PC knowing there will be a 15 minute delay between entering my username and password and seeing the desktop, due to network policies, virus scans and Windows patches. Every day this happens. Note to self: raise this to IT Support once more. Two hundred people at an average of £50 per billable hour waiting 15 minutes is, ooh, £2,500 per day lost income, around £625,000 per year. I’d commit to fixing that for half the price, cash in hand, no questions asked. Fortunately my diary is paper-based and the café around the corner is staffed by Croatians with a vigorous approach to coffee-making. As I wait, I plan my day with a vengeance, knowing that whoever booked me yesterday for work due today will get priority over anyone trying to book me today for work due yesterday. I kill the next 14 minutes by taking a walk round the building. There’s no one in. Reasons will vary from “my goldfish was poorly in the night” through “my social worker wouldn’t bail me” to “I forgot”. “I was working till midnight” there’s no argument with. Commitment to the work, each other, the client is all.”
Source: Gonzo QA: Fear and loathing in the morning, December 2006

With respect to the paragraph above, what’s changed between then and now? Not much. Slow starts, coffee and commitment are still the order of the day. Two and a quarter years real-time is about nine internet years though, which would explain why I have aged faster than the Queen.


First posted: 7 March 2009 on