Why not hire a remote QA Lead?

I saw this job posting for a  QA Lead at Nivio.

I thought they sounded like a cool company, and I used to mess with diskless remote boot Linux systems like LTSP back in the day so I totally get the idea.  Mix in broadband wifi and cloud computing and it gets really cool.

So I applied for the job.  

But I live in Ecuador, so I’d only be available via telecommute for at least the next 6 months.  I totally get it if that doesn’t work for them, but I had fun answering some (hypothetical) questions that went along with the job listing.

Here are Nivio’s questions and my answers:

1. Explain the concept of a database to your 8 year old nephew (don’t worry if you don’t have one – be creative!)

My nephew’s name is Matt. He loves motor bikes. His older brothers Sam & AJ each have one, and he wants his own.

I would take photos of his brothers bikes and cut out an ad for the one Matt has his eye on. Lining up the three pictures I ask him which bike belongs to who. Then I write each of their names on note cards and place the name next to the corresponding motor bike. Then I ask details about each motor bike — size, speed, etc. and write all that down on cards too.

Then I’d ask about other toys — his skateboard, the trampoline, etc. and write on more cards. Who owns the skateboard? Matt moves his own name on top of the skateboard card. Who owns the trampoline? After hesitating he moves his card and those of his brothers on top of the trampoline.

Do you think we could make a computer program that keeps track of these things? Matt nods his head.

That’s a database. How would you do it, I ask?

He explains that you could use pictures on the computer and words and drag them the same way we just did on the table. Exactly, I say, only the computer doesn’t need the pictures, just the words.

How can you tell the computer that the motorbike, the skateboard, and the trampoline all belong to you? I could make more cards with my name on it Matt suggests.

Or you could draw a line from your name to each of them (if your mom wouldn’t kill me for writing on her table with this marker.) He nods with a mischevious grin.

That’s basically what the computer does in a database.

2. Tell your grandma how cloud computing is going to change her world

Don’t worry grandma, it’s not really going to change anything.

Cloud Computing  just means that some of the information on your computer will be kept on someone else’s computer. You don’t need to know where, because your computer will still be able to find it. That means that you can put more pictures and recipes and stuff on your computer without it slowing down. And, when you come to visit, you can find the stuff that was on your computer by using my computer.

But I can do that already, she’d say.

Yeah, but it will make it easier for people like me to write programs that can do that. And I won’t have to keep calling you for your cookie recipes.

Well, I hope you’ll still call me.

I will grandma.

3. Give the two most likely outcomes when I role two dice (regular nothing funny!) and how the potential results change with n dice (maybe give us a formula)?

Both dice land on the table, or at least one of them rolls off.

Chances are (1 in 6, assuming the dice aren’t loaded), they’re going to total 7, since it occurs in 6 out of 36 possible combinations. 6 or 8 are next most likely totals (5 out of 36 each).

For each die you add, most likely total will shift towards the middle of the sum.

It’s simply averages. The most likely outcome is the middle of all possible sums (because there are more combinations that total the middle number.

For two dice, the probability of each sum is:
2=1,3=2,4=3,5=4,6=5,7=6,8=5,9=4,10=2,11=1,12=1 (out of 6*6)

For three dice, the probably of:
3=1, …, 10=8, 11=8,… 18=1 (out of 6*6*6)

To find the most likely outcome the formula is (I think):

(n*1 + n*6) / 2 (out of 6^n)

4. Write a formula to explain life – explain it is as much as you can… don’t worry there is no right answer.

garbage in = garbage out

5. Ask us the toughest question you can think of.. :)

Why not hire a remote QA lead?

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