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Professional Background

Background in QA, Development and Support

Beginning in 1995, a long and adverturous ride began in the QA and product development world that has served to challenge, enlighten, frustrate and reward me along the way. A 13 year run at DresserWayne provided me with plenty of mentors and room to grow with an entry by way of manual testing complex systems involving both hardware, software, and electromechanical products under development. Dozens of 3rd party products interfaced with our suite of offerings adding to the requirements to get products to market.

 

Manual Testing

I started off in a manual testing role at DresserWayne working mainly on a point-of-sale system that also drove equpment that communicated and controlled fueling dispensers ( both the electromechincal and card processing functions). With the product recently becoming 'rock-solid', the feature requests on the point-of-sale exploded and test plans consisted of hundreds of cases.

As DresserWayne manufactured many of their own devices, hardware and firmware testing played a significant part of any test effort. Adding to the burden was the requirement to communicate to many 3rd party devices such as lottery machines, scanners, Back Office Management systems, PIN pads, tank gauges, security cameras, and more. Many protocols were employed including: RS232, RS485, TCP/IP, UDP, and XML. Data capture devices were used on the hardware communicate lines and digital sniffer such as CommView and MicroTap were used for monitoring and reviewing data internal to the computers. Specifications were numerous and often consisted of several hundreds of pages. With card processing there is zero tolerance on errors so attention to detail was paramount.

Support Services

After roughly a year and half, I accepted a role on the Customer Technical Help Desk supporting end users, technical staff and card processing hosts with installation, troubleshooting, training and maintenance. Both electro-machanical hardware/firmware and the point-of-sale software were supported accounting for over 30 products. During my tenure there, I accumulated and organized manuals and techinical documents for a period accounting for 3 decades of products. Training was also provided to new employees, technical staff during their certifications, and assisted visiting vendors and clients with specific questions or issues.

Automation Testing

In 2000 I returned to the QA team as an automated tester in the 'Computer Aided Validation Network' team. In addition to the hardware testing requirements the automation of regression and new features were now being delivered. In the 2000's the proprietary hardware was replaced with the traditional PC and all the code was ported to C++ with VB UI driving the display aspects. Development underwent rapid changes to support the new comlexities of GUI software and the options a user has at any given moment. Test cases went from hundreds to the thousands and with each of the major clients having custom implementations, the test database consisted of tens of thousands of scenarios.

Once a grasp of the automation framework was obtained, we refactored the entire system for a modular architecture that allow updating modules much simpler and efficient and introduced more advanced data driven testing from CSV files. Prior to the refactor, each test represented only ONE test case. By introducing parameterization of test scripts, each file could perform one test or thousands. This was a great tool for exploratory testing as a single test could now also perform random iterations or one could run through a serialized list of values for funtional testing, providing round-the-clock testing.

20 different projects were managed during a period of 5-6 years with test plans covering over 5000 test cases. ExxonMobile ( then simply 'Mobile' ) completely revamped their card processing host from ISDN to broadband and the Nucleus POS needed to support the new protocols.

New Product Support

In 2006, I accepted a role in the New Product Support team that managed pilot/beta testing of the new software releases.

  • Selection of test locations for beta test
  • Building relationships with the client management and on-site staff
  • Installing comlete systems or simple software updates
  • Remote installation, updates, and support
  • Providing 24x7 support of test base
  • Working with development and product management to identify bugs/issues and drive solutions through development
  • Test updates internally, in live environments or client labs as needed ( leveraging automation added greatly to quickly identifying issues - i.e. smoke testing )
  • Provide constant feedback and reporting to stake holders
  • Provide final check-off on products prior to release to production

 

Silo6Media IT Services

A transition to self-employment was made in 2010 after a studio I co-owned and operated built up a sizable list of business contacts that appreciated our computing installation and professional efficiency. These small business owners lacked the IT skills to build and maintain their small networks consisting of a small group of hosts and often times, a CMS intranet server runing the traditional LAMP stack with Drupal sitting on top. Network peripherals such as WiFi Switches and Routers, Printers, NAS, and outboard Audio/Video equipment were also introduced and maintained when needed.

DELL - BIOS QA

As the backlog began to wind-down, a serendipitous desire to return to a QA role arose and I accepted a role at Dell testing the new offerings of the UEFI BIOS in preparation for Windows8. This short-term contract introduced me to BIOS development with responsibilities including integrating and building code changes, injecting target systems, running through test plans and scripts, capturing and analyzing data, and logging and reporting issues and progress.

DELL - PET (Factory Image Validation )

Soon after the first contract, I accepted another to test a suite of disk image tools built with ASP.NET, AJAX, VBScript and JavaScript that integrated with a SQLServer backend. Several initiatives were introduced including shrinking test images from 10s of gigbytes to - in some cases - 1M images. Also created a prototype VS2012/C# test framework using Selenium WebDriver and an XML/XLS backend/frontend.

 

The following timeline simplifies the progression of functional roles:

Timeline

 

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