After working for several years in quality assurance based positions in different industries, I've seen my fair share of products that make it out the door that meet or exceed the customers expectations. Being the person in a position to make sure that product passes, I try my best to see that product fully functional and as bug / glitch free as possible. Recently though, I've seen many products and gadgets come out that just aren't up to the standards that they should be and it made me wonder exactly what the QA departments of these companies are doing with their time. It also makes me wonder why people are settling for less and less as the years go on.
Almost every piece of software that gets released to the public has bugs and flaws in it, but there are some companies who release software that has more bugs that should have been caught by the QA department before the software was released. One major software developer is known to have security flaws and instability in their operating systems. Now although this company has delivered a few decent operating systems throughout the years, their newest operating system has caused more headaches than are necessary. Many people complained that the operating system wasn't working properly due to drivers not being set up properly for hardware accessories prior to the operating systems release. Yet this isn't solely the problem of the operating system's developer, some of the third party companies that created the hardware didn't have the proper drivers set up either. The quality problem extends down to the game division's QA department, as shown by the high failure rate of their console, which is partially due to a rushed delivery of the console to beat their competitors to the market.
Yet they aren't the the only one, as was seen by another operating system that was compromised at CanSecWest this year, one which is supposed to be more secure and stable than their competitors. The OS lasted 2 minutes before it was compromised by a security flaw. 2 minutes, it takes more time to make a coffee at Starbucks than it did to break into the operating system. This company also faced a higher than expected failure rate with their first delivery of their portable MP3 player. Now these computers and laptops are still fairly clean of viruses and faults that other operating systems have, they still have their own problems.
This isn't limited to computer software either. Take a look at the auto industry, food industry, and any other industry where someone needs to inspect the quality of a product. Many times you will see that there is a recall due to a chemical found in food, or due to a faulty wiring system in a car, yet where were the people who were supposed to check these things out before the product went out the door? Why didn't the lead inspector acknowledge there was a problem instead of signing off on the final product and letting it go, only to find it back in the warehouse weeks or months later?
This brings up several questions. Why are quality assurance workers not catching these things early enough to fix them? Why has society just rolled over and accepted these less than fair quality products to keep being produced without complaint. What happened to "long lasting" and "high quality"?
One of the reasons quality could be bad is that certain QA jobs do not pay very well, so the employees of the company will only work hard enough to keep their jobs, but they won't work that extra to make sure the product is up to good enough standards. Even with certain incentives employees have no real reason to check everything because it won't mean a bonus or more pay for them, and there's nothing for them to look forward to. Of course this is all based on experience I've had and I could be wrong with some industries.
So the next time you go to buy something, make sure you ask as many questions you can about how reliable the company is, and what other customers have said about the product. Do research online with Consumer Reports and find the ratings of these products. Also understand that there are flaws and bugs that no one will catch until it's too late, or maybe never catch them at all. It's a small price to pay for the highly technology reliant lives we live today.
Doug Mirro writes for http://easytechtalk.com, a technology blog aimed at simplifying technology for everyone to understand, as well as providing a place for discussion about technology related topics.
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