The obligatory update…

I’ve been working on more electronic voting testing…

The place where I work is one of the four NIST accredited testing labs in the U.S. that can certify voting software/equipment, and for those who pay any kind of attention to the news, you know that e-voting has it’s issues… Well, I’m single-handedly attempting to fix that for the State of Colorado right now and that’s taking a lot of my time.

I recently moved up in the company again; now not only am I the senior test engineer, but I’m also the “Director of I.T.” now. This has ensured that my average day at work is at least 10 hours long. Between myself and Bill Mrochek, the Director of Q.A., we practically run the company at this point.Fortunately Bill is good people, though like me he’s working himself into an early grave trying to be all things to all people.

Unfortunately the company has fallen on hard times right now and no matter how much work we pour into it, the fact that our employees require a certain amount of money per hour to live on is killing us… In the last six months most of our direct competition has moved into Canada where they enjoy huge tax breaks, lower cost of living, and government kickbacks.

It started with a really cool little game testing company called “Enzyme” who made the move to the Great White North, but in the last few months it seems everyone in the QA industry has a brand new building up there and has dropped into the sub-$20 an hour price range.

Then there’s India… You get crap work from there, but they can pay people $2 a day which makes their $12 an hour rates actually profitable.

What really makes India work for QA is something I call the ‘Body Factor’… If you get enough bodies testing something, your percentage chance of finding all to the issues goes up. And while they don’t have the kind of skill sets we have, they can put a lot more people on some task to each person we can – per dollar.

On top of all of this the major game publishers seem to have decided that QA just isn’t all that important. This is because over the last few years they’ve trained gamers to expect that the game in the box they just spent $50 for will have all sorts of issues that will get fixed as they’re found via patches…

The last non-MMO game I bought came on a DVD, so it was a maximum of 4-ish gigs in size, but when I got it home and installed it, there were about 2 gigs of patches it needed to work right… Half of the game had been ‘fixed’ from the time they figured it was done and ready to be put on the shelf, till I picked it up the day it hit the shelf, and before I could enjoy that $50 I just spent I had to download for about 2 hours.

To me this is unacceptable, but no one seemed to notice and the game got a 9+ in the game reviews. But I’m sure the money-guys noticed and immediately cut QA funding another 10% or so for the next title.

Speaking of games, my current MMO time-waster is “Tabula Rasa” which I get between 2-3 hours a week to mess with. Its fun, I just wish I had more time to play with it. I still play Eve Online on Wednesday nights with some folks from work too. I’ve not logged into WoW for over a month now – I’ve just seen everything that game has to offer and I can’t seem to drag myself to play it when I have a few spare minutes.

I’ve spent a little time working on the WarWagon, but as it won’t fit into my closet-sized garage I haven’t spent the kind of time on it I wanted to before the snow really started to fly. It’s functional and the things that *needed* to get done got done, but I still have a lot of work to do… I’m guessing I’ll be renting a garage somewhere to work on it, but the only one I’ve found worth the monthly fee is located near Golden, which is a helluva drive just to turn wrenches.

Zeze, my roommate, is still kicking. The three-times-a-week dialysis is starting to drag him down though.

Marshal the wonder cat has *finally* started to settle in around here. He’s completely co-dependant and still tends to be highly annoying when I get home from work in his need for attention, but he’s not chewing up everything in sight anymore out of frustration at being alone all day. The vet is still telling me I should get a second cat to keep him company during the day, but I didn’t sign on for the cat thing to have two of them.

So, that’s the update. Right now my life consists of entirely too much ‘rinse and repeat’ and I need to look into fixing that… But it would require a new job, a different place to live, and probably a new location to live in. I can feel the desire for another life-reset starting to bubble to the surface, so if I mysteriously just up and vanish again in the next year or so don’t worry, I’ll post here eventually and let everyone know what’s up. 🙂