one month

Oct. 19th, 2013 09:05 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
[personal profile] mellowtigger
I finished my 4th week at my new job.  It's a mixed bag for me, with both prominent highs and lows.

The High:
There are actual jobs that pay actual money for permutation exploration?!  I was built for that stuff!  How did I miss discovering this career path after all those years I spent programming?  When I left programming a decade ago, I could have been doing this kind of work instead of tech support.  I guess I never thought of it because I never programmed at any place large enough to have a separate test group.  Instead, programmers did all of their own testing.  Yes, absolutely, I can go exploring every possible use of a program just to see if it works as intended.  That's not a job, that's an adventure.  :)

The Low:
Unfortunately, self-directed testing is what the job requires only between the episodes of intense regression testing.  The regression testing uses predefined "scripts" (as in food recipes, not computer programs) that define explicit scenarios that must work properly.  You'd think that these scripts would make testing easier, but I'm finding the opposite.  Each script requires a new "setup" to create an environment of hardware and software versions that a customer might find themselves using.  But no script exists to explain the setup, and I'm finding that I have vast fields of ignorance over most of these very important details.  I can't test if I can't set up. It becomes permutation explosion where I can't even understand a specific trail that I'm following.  I'm easily flustered when confronting my own ignorance under important deadlines.  Nearly everybody is, I would guess, but unfortunately that's what regression testing is all about.  As I was leaving work on Friday afternoon, I got a long list of assignments that will help me simulate the experience before my first real regression test.  I asked for more concrete examples, so I'm getting exactly what I needed and wanted.   I may, though, end up running away in terror... and that's bad.  I'm not convinced that I can do this particular job.  I think maybe I should have "cut my teeth" on this new career path (which is great!) with a much less complex product.  :(  Stay tuned.

The Other Low:
I'm surprised at how little information I can find on research into what exactly trips the stress sensors in autistics who drive vehicles. I'm not holding up well on my commute.  I've spent about 1/3 of my morning commutes feeling nausea.  It fades away almost immediately after I finally sit down in my chair at work, but it's a very bad start to the work day.  While the evening commute holds much more traffic and my stress level is high then too, it never leads to nausea.  I don't know if it's because of the sunlight (which makes it easier to see everything) or the slower speeds of travel (which makes it easier to scan for traffic).  It's almost 22 miles from home to work, and I can't remember ever driving so far in metro traffic for any job.  If I focus now (sitting silently in my bedroom during the weekend) on the nausea, I sense memories of my time in Houston in 1987 when I worked at IBM.  Maybe I experienced similar problems there, but it certainly was not as strong as now.  I'll write a new post about "autistics and driving" after I've pondered the topic some more.

Alternatives Exist:
I've noticed in recent weeks that some tech companies focus only on hiring adults with autism diagnoses to do quality assurance testing of software products.  Two mentioned in this article specifically offer long formal training (which addresses my Low #1) and working only by telecommute (which addresses my Low #2).  I've already fired off an email to ask about these opportunities, but I haven't heard anything back at all.  I'm disappointed by the silence.  Obviously this career path is a good fit for a mind like mine, since entire companies are springing up to develop this mutual benefit.  My current employment, though, may not be ideal for me in other ways.  It's a good thing that my boss was on vacation last week, because I was prepared to leave before any important deadlines loomed.  I've already given him contact information for the person they should hire to replace me, if it comes to that.  This other guy has spent years using this product, so he already knows the many things that I still need to learn.  I can also be stubborn, though, and I think simple curiosity (the motivation to explore many new tech details) can help me through my current flight instinct.
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