Monday, September 24, 2012

Spoke too soon

Back in August I said that it looked like Test and Measurement World no longer does salary surveys.  Oops.

It looks like this salary survey has been rebranded as a more generic survey of job satisfaction and what engineers in testing are like.  The survey's most interesting point, in my opinion, was this nugget: "test engineers enjoyed a 14% jump in average salary over the past year."

Nice, but I still hold by my earlier assertion that the best info can be had from

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Startups in the news

I've never hidden the fact that I'm partial to high-tech startup companies and what testing is like in that environment (see here, there, way back in 2007, and a couple weeks ago).  We're not really talking software startups - I've mostly been involved in companies that were commercializing some new work that came out of Harvard, MIT, Columbia, government labs, or something similar.

In the past week two articles were published addressing two separate issues about startup companies: acquisition of them and doing business with them.

Wall Street Journal article points out that bigger companies are increasingly getting new talent and ideas through buying startup companies.  The author correctly points out that for the people who worked at the startup, getting bought out can be a mixed bag.  While the article focuses exclusively on software startups, I'd say the points raised apply to hardware startups as well.  I've been through that myself and the experience really depends on the culture of the company buying you and your own personality.

CIO wrote about some of the risks and rewards for working with a startup.  Since software startups are in vogue, this article discusses them primarily.  One thing they did point out rang a bell with me - startup companies don't have a strong customer support base.  In my own experience as well as that of some friends, when they start to build that out one of the first things they do is look to pull a guy out of testing to help with customer support.

Think about it.  The test engineer in a startup has by now (hopefully) developed the test platforms that you use.  He knows the product very well since he's been testing it for a while, but he has more time on his hand once you're going into production.  So you put him to work helping customers use the product he's already been using in end-case scenarios.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random post posers

So a couple months ago I wrote about my new car.  I was trying to make a point about some of the massive testing that must go into the development of ever-more-advanced vehicles.  I've now had 11 comments on that one post, most of them using key words about the make and model of the car, and practically none of them writing about testing.

Who are these people?  As it turns out, they're all just hot-linking back to various auto dealerships and car parts stores.  Who has time to do that?  I wonder if there's some small company out in the middle of nowhere that hires a bunch of people to write comments all day long and post them to different sites in an attempt to game the system by increasing links to their sites.  Or they could contract the work out on a "per post" basis to hard-up college students looking to make a few bucks.  The student downloads some software that trolls the internet for them, looking for blog posts, forums, etc. that relate to a certain customer, and then the student is paid a couple bucks for every post/comment/etc. that they write.  What a world.

Anyway, I'm just going to delete them all.

Here's a Google article about this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Startup intentions

I'm on my fifth or seventh startup company, depending on how you count it.  Of those companies, I'd say only two seriously considered taking themselves public.  One of those companies went belly-up, and the other is still scraping along.  Of the other several startup companies, one folded and was picked up for pennies on the dollar, one was bought out for good money, and the others are still TBD.

So, in my experience most startups have in the back of their minds that they likely will be bought out.  That brings me to a podcast from the Harvard Business Review called "What's Wrong with Today's Entrepreneurs."  I stumbled across this a couple weeks ago and it caught my attention as describing one of those articles written by someone who has no real world experience.  First of all, the author was comparing apples and oranges.  I don't think you can really compare software startups to hardware startups - there are just too many differences.  Second, he didn't even bring up any recent hardware startup companies.  I could certainly have suggested a few.

Anyway, startup companies have become a bit of a hobby horse for me, so I felt like I had to mention this.