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.

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 IV: Mistakes, I’ve made a few

Dateline: London, September 2007

My biggest mistake was to delete the UK master invoice file of the major chemical company I worked for at the time, shortly before going home for the evening. I had been promoted to Database Administrator (DBA) a few weeks before and I was carrying out routine house-keeping activities – or so I thought. It turned out that my recently-departed predecessor had not been naming database objects logically, had not been carrying out routine house-keeping activities and further, the database management system (DBMS) was quite capable of deleting files in use without warning or protest. The result of all this was I went home unaware. Further, the overnight batch file which wrote the days invoices to the master file and then deleted itself wrote the days invoices to null and then deleted itself. When I came in the next day, Accounts Receivable staff had just been told that as well as inputting the day’s invoices, they would have to re-input the previous day’s too, essentially doing two days work in one day and nobody was to go home until it was done. They gave me the cold shoulder, the Finance Director gave me an earful which included the full cost of my error rounded to the nearest five thousand pounds and the IT Director sent two of his people down to give me a kicking on his behalf. The Senior Systems Programmer beat me up himself; he always was a hands-on kind of guy. The previous night’s dump had been restored in my absence but it turned out that transaction logging had never been enabled, so roll-forward until a few minutes before I had accidentally deleted the file was not possible. At the time I did not know that you could run a DBMS without transaction logging enabled. My response of “how about that?” was not appreciated by sysadmin staff at all.

Gonzo QA III: Fear and loathing after dark

Dateline: London, June 2007

During the day stuff happens and I deal with it, but when the sun goes down and the shadows lengthen, doubt sets in. Andy Grove said only the paranoid survive. What did he mean by that? Should I read his book? What if I don’t?(1) Certainly it always worries me to have nothing to worry about. What have I overlooked? What disaster should I be preparing for rather than complacently sitting here watching a Norwegian ski down the up escalators at Angel on YouTube(2)? Getting fired, obviously. As Head of QA, it isn’t enough for my group to be more or less fully utilised testing stuff for the next quarter. I must plan for what needs to happen next! I need to lead from the front and do some real work! I need to check it’s all happening according to plan and take corrective action accordingly! I got that from Deming and he got it from Shewhart and they both seemed to know what they were talking about, so it’s good enough for me(3).

Gonzo QA II: Fear and loathing in the afternoon

Dateline: London, March 2007

Not much time to eat lunch today. When I got down to the canteen, three at the foosball table were looking for a fourth and I hate to disappoint. Twenty minutes later my partner and I have lost the tournament two games to one, but by Golly, we made them sweat. I climb the stairs back to the fourth floor thinking about the test plan I have been commissioned to write this afternoon; well, start to write this afternoon at any rate. Half a day for a test plan is always a bit optimistic; three days is more like it. Half a day is only usually long enough for a checklist. I wonder what Richard is doing sat at my desk and remember that I moved a few days ago. Finally back at my new desk on the third, I find a note on my wrist rest with “Call me” scribbled on it, no name, no number, no clue. I ask my group who put it there but they look at me blankly. Someone suggests a member of finance rumoured to own an invisibility cloak, but I find this unlikely. He last left his office in 1998 and all the evidence suggests he hasn’t left it since. I bin the note and then take it out of the regular bin and put it in the recycling bin. Hey, I have a conscience, you know.