Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but did you ever wonder what happened to the hallway monitor from 5th grade? (That's Grade 5 for you Canadians). They all grew up to become QA.
I work for a biotech company. That means we make drugs. The good, really expensive kind, mostly. Now, if you've ever worked in the pharmaceutical industry - and cooking large amounts of processed acetone through coffee filters doesn't count - you know that the Federal Gov't gets nervous when you propose to put things into people's bodies that may have potential side effects, like sterility, or leakage from the bottom parts. They're watching out for you, after all. So we have an entire army of Quality Assurance folks who want to see documented evidence of everything we do to our systems which are part of our drug-manufactuting operations. And no-kidding, in principal I whole-heartedly support this.
Ah, but the problem. See, the QA folks who are supposed to ensure us programmer-type people aren't accidentally putting arsenic in your tylenol with our handy little computer systems have about as much familiarity with their computers as my 2 year old. No, wait - actually, Ella already knows how to find Sesame Street on the internet, which puts her years ahead of our QA folks. And like every bad idea gone worse, my own particular QA SS have the tendency to compensate for their lack of knowledge with ultimatums. (as a reluctant caveat, I will say that there are one or two in QA who are exceptions to this rule).
When I'm asked what exactly it is that I do, I often have a hard time explaining. Mostly, I spend endless hours dealing with twits like this. Here's the gist of a conversation I had today (I only wish this was an exageration)
Me: We are upgrading the network. You won't notice anything during this work, but we do have to change the IP address on your servers, which means rebooting. Sorry for the inconvenience, but here's a detailed schedule which will help you plan for the brief outage.
QA: Will this have any impact on my [insert application name here] application?
Me: Yes. It runs on a server. That's why I said 'your servers' at the beginning of this conversation.
QA: But what about all my data! The FDA could shut us down! I refuse to sign off on this unless someone from my department can stand beside the system administrator and watch him plug it into the new network to make sure he does it right.
Me: I said 'IP address.' Why are you talking about data and cables? Have I mistakenly assumed that because you are Computer Systems Quality Assurance you would understand what I was talking about? Just sign the plan which says you know what it means and I won't tell anyone your secret.
QA: I can't sign that! I don't understand it!
Me: Are you admitting that you don't know how to do your job?
QA: Um... no... but I'm not signing...
OK, I may have exagerated... but not by much.