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A Day in the Life of a QA [Kiko]

A day in the life of a QA featured image

Greetings and salutations, dear DevriX blog readers!

Our guest today is one of our quality assurance specialists – Kiril Georgiev.

We’ll be discussing his interest in DJing, his work experience in television, advice for beginner QAs, and what kind of world he hopes his son grows up in. All this and much more.

Before you continue with this one, feel free to read the other interviews of the series:

A Day in the Life of a QA

Hello, Kiko, thank you for accepting my invitation. First, can you share a bit about yourself?
Hi, Denis. In terms of hobbies, I love music – listening to it, exploring new artists, I even had a couple of piano lessons when I was a kid, but I discontinued them, because I didn’t have enough time for school. Thus, I never finished a course on playing the piano, but I do have a piano at home, we’re a very musical family. Most of my sisters can play the piano, my mother can, my niece. For myself, I can say I’ve found my musicality in later years, more oriented towards DJing. That’s more of a hobby, though, not a professional endeavor.

As a DJ, I’ve been asked quite a few times to participate in weddings, and other events, but I prefer more informal get-together, like gatherings, holidays, birthday parties. People usually have more fun at such events. Not that a wedding is not fun, but it has specific rituals, traditions, etc. Maybe it’s just my own perception, since I’m a shy person, and it’s hard for me to talk in front of a lot of people.

It’s a good thing it’s just the two of us now, then… (laughing)
Riding a bicycle is something else I really enjoy. I haven’t had the time for it lately, but I love  bike riding and doing sports, it makes me feel good. Additionally, it helps me clear my mind and relaxes me. Another hobby that I’ve forgotten about in recent years is radio. I’ve been a radio amateur since 2007.

You’re a certified class 1 radio amateur.
Yes, I got that license in 2015. Class 1 provides radio amateurs access to unlimited frequencies and capacities, which means that the only requirement you have to follow is regarding the electromagnetic safety.

In theory, you can create your own radio station?
In theory, yes. However, in order to create it, you’ll need more knowledge of electrical engineering. Something which I’m also passionate about, but I have just a basic understanding of how things work.

Still, being a class 1 radio amateur allows me to connect to the entire world using short waves. Sure, now we have modern technology, digital networks, but the thrill is when you hear someone not on the internet, but rather on an old school radio station. I’ve established two very long connections – one is from North Carolina, and the other is from Jamaica. I’ve also reached a connection in Brazil, but for that I had to use a bigger, more powerful antenna.

The other two were with a smaller antenna, which makes the connections much more thrilling, being able to hear people from the other side of the ocean.

It’s magic, definitely. You mentioned one of your hobbies is DJing, and I have two questions: what are your favorite musical genres, and could you share a fun story you had while DJing?
Regarding musical genres, in the last few years, I prefer mixing electronic music – house, deep house, trance, dance – more party-oriented music. I’m not the biggest fan of this music, but I like it, and I like mixing it. I also enjoy mixing commercial music, and hip-hop. Yes, sometimes I have fun playing pop-folk, (laughing) because most parties here can’t live without it, and it’s a type of music that has emotion and energy, which uplifts most Bulgarian parties.

In terms of genres that I personally love listening to, though – hard rock, heavy metal, old school bands like Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Queen, and so on. My absolute favorite is Bon Jovi, he’s my music idol.

What is your opinion on the widely commented topic about music, and art in general, comparing what is done ‘nowadays, and what used to be created before in the 70s, 80s, that golden era for music and art? How would you compare both, and do you think that we have artists today that don’t just work with autotune and modern technologies, but put their soul into the music?
In my opinion, artists in the past created music for their own pleasure. Of course, they were gifted, talented, and made quality music that was liked. That remains and will remain in time as a classic for many generations to enjoy.

Today, what’s being made, in my opinion, is simply commercial. It’s about making money, therefore it’s spit out in large quantities, and it’s hard to find the ones made with quality, passion, and an idea.

That’s what rock n roll bands did before, and not just rock n roll, they gathered to create music, because of their passion for music, not so much for commercial purposes. While today, it’s all about audio tuning, ad positioning – all factors that blur the idea of quality music.

Sure, there are still some songs and artists today that manage to stand out from the endless flow of new music and musicians who are famous today, and a nobody tomorrow.

I agree. Ultimately, the best will weather the test of time, as it always has, it has done in the past, it will do it in the future.
Regarding fun stories from DJing, I have quite a few. Once, there was this guy who tore off his shirt after an all night long New Year’s party, and he told me that I was better than Mark Knight, because he was supposed to be at a Mark Knight party, but chose to stay at mine. Eventually, that became a running gag, and my friends used to joke about it.

Another fun moment was when I was hired for a birthday party, after I had done a party for a dude from that company. They really liked it, so they wanted me again. I ended up playing music for six hours in front of an empty hall (laughing).

That’s because everyone was smoking outside (both laughing). It was really demotivating, but in the end, the guy who had the birthday came to me and said that it was great (laughing). During the first few hours I mixed some stuff, then I just played premade sets, and talked with one of the waitresses.

Another fun story was when I was invited to host a prom party. I thought it was going to be the typical prom in a restaurant with lots of young people. A fun, intense party. It turned out, the party was for his elderly parents, grandparents. During the whole evening, I had to play some old Bulgarian music, they really insisted on it (laughing). It’s really not possible to mix such music, you can just play song after song.

In the end, I had to turn the volume of the music down to the point where two people could have a conversation from one end of the restaurant to the other. Eventually, at the end of the night, the oldest guest came to me and said: “Boy, everything was really great, but that music was really loud.” (both laughing)

That was another one of those demotivating party moments, otherwise, it’s usually fun, full of cool moments, interesting stories, conversations, etc.

Kiko, QA of DevriX

Cool. Fun stories, indeed. You’ve also been the DJ for our own parties at DevriX, but I would rather focus your attention on the next question. One of your previous jobs was in the television industry.  Could you share some stories from your time there with us?
Yes, there’s a lot of them, come to think of it. I spent 10 years working in national television, and with a few cable ones. The company I was working for was an external service company – providing its own production, and technical expertise.

I’ve worked on some of the biggest TV projects in Bulgaria – Miss Bulgaria, The Mole, Music Academy. I was given full control over the broadcasting of Eurovision, and the World Cup in South Africa (2010). There were also only a few post-productions, meaning pre-recorded shows, most of them were live.

Live performances are always stressful, you need to know everything perfectly from start to finish, and you can’t afford to slip up.

Meanwhile, anything can happen…
Yes. And you have to let that steam out somewhere, which leads to lots of jokes, especially when something happens that most of the time remains hidden from the viewer. One of the funniest things was during the SMS-based games we were shooting. It was our own production, aired during the late night hours, and there was always something interesting going on. For example, a bat once flew in the studio during a show that was live, and in the next show the hostess came with a gun. There were lots of inside jokes.

There was one case where I had to stand behind a TV game contestant for fifteen minutes. Her microphone had stopped working, so I had to go and fix it, as the production’s technical person. However, as we were live I didn’t have a choice but to keep crouching behind her, and remain hidden until the commercial break came (laughing).

Unfortunately, we won’t have enough time for all those crazy stories. I want to take you back to your current job and talk about one of our core values, which is to burn with passion. Which are the things you’re most passionate about in life, and in work?
I dedicate the most energy to understanding how something works. I want to be able to know everything. In practice, that’s what testing means to me. To check how a product works from A to Z. The thing that makes me passionate about it is when I’m testing something that I’m not familiar with, something new, like a new functionality.

Then the testing scenarios start rolling around in my head, and I start thinking about how I can test it in the best possible way. QAs have a saying that it’s not possible to do a complete test, however, trying to figure out all the possible scenarios, so you can test out the product to the maximum, can really spark your imagination.

That’s something I really enjoy and something that led me to this profession. I’ve always been passionate about finding out how things work. Even as a child, I remember getting a police toy car as a present, and the very next day I dismantled it, so I could see how it  worked (laughing).

From what I understand, you’ve managed to combine your life passion with your job, and that’s always great, because work should be something you enjoy doing, not just something you do for money.

Now, onto the main question of the series: what does a day in the life of a QA look like?
Quite literally, my day begins by waking up and grabbing a cup of coffee – I can’t wake up without it, because I usually have to stay up late, but we’ll get to that later. Then I start getting ready for work, respectively. Lately I’ve been a bit distracted, because of my son. He’s often awake at that time, and I want to give him some attention before I leave for work.

Then I usually drive to work, although sometimes I take public transportation. When I’m in the car, I like talking on the phone, to have company.

Using a hands-free device, I hope?
Yes, hands-free always. Once I’m at the office, I begin by checking the daily plan – what needs to be done, and then the actual work starts – testing, synching with the colleagues, etc.

I like to take breaks regularly, and to be able to get some fresh air and just take a breather. I prefer to put a lot of thought into my work, not just perform routine tasks, so I prefer going around the office, talking to colleagues, sometimes it’s easier for me to focus during these conversations, even if it’s just small talk.

Surely, and as you mentioned earlier, this is creative work that requires imagination, therefore you can’t just be at your desk for 8 hours straight and expect to be productive and creative.
That’s right. When I get home in the evening, first we take care of my son – feeding, bathing etc., and then when he’s all good, I can finally sit down and have dinner with my girlfriend. She typically goes to sleep earlier, so late evenings are the time when I can be with myself and watch something, read articles or mix music. It’s the time I use to relieve stress from the day.

Okay, I’ll bring you back to fatherhood in a bit, but first, let me ask, as a quality assurance expert with quite a bit of experience under your belt, what advice would you give to people who are just starting out with QA, or are just starting to get passionate about it? In other words, what advice would you have liked to receive when you were first starting out?
I can’t say that I was misled, but one of the first things I was told when I started learning QA was that it was going to be super easy, and that I was going to become a quality assurance tester in roughly 10 minutes. Just like teaching one to make coffee. So I would tell the beginners not to be fooled by comments like that.

And don’t waste your time, if you think you won’t be able to do it, that’s okay. The job is not for everyone because there is a lot of responsibility involved. As QAs, we certify the final product. We are the people that have to check and verify whether the product is working or not, and this creates a certain amount of responsibility. While a developer writes code, or develops a product, it always comes to us afterward to be tested. I won’t get into a lot of details about risk analysis, etc., but generally most of the responsibility is on us – we’re the ones that will say “this can go to production, go live”.

It’s a job that entitles more than just clicking around all day, and saying “I like this, this works, etc.” It requires attention to detail, and being precise. Thus, I would advise newbies to choose something else, if they are not willing to take on such responsibility.

Another piece of advice I can give is that they need to be creative, and use their imagination. Think outside the box, as the saying goes. You need to plan out and put a lot of thought and imagination into fully testing a product. You have to consider all perspectives, and view it from all angles. When you receive an item, for example, which is supposed to work in a particular way, you need to consider everything – can it open, close, what color should it be, etc.

Of course, these testing scenarios are created according to specific requirements, however there are some edge cases, where if you miss something, the consequences could be bad.

So, you could say that taking initiative is also a very important quality or aspect of the job?
For sure. Again, this is not an easy job. There are a lot of subtle elements, and details. To summarize, don’t be fooled by what others tell you, and approach the profession responsibly.

Okay, useful advice. Hopefully, QA beginners who are reading this will make their conclusions. Now, onto the last question, or rather the last two. You recently became a father (less than a year ago), and that definitely puts one’s life into a new perspective. 

Tell me, what sort of world do you hope your child will grow up in? Comparing it to the most recent and “interesting” time period, and those 15–20 years ago, when we were growing up? Also, if you could give your son one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
I’ll start with the second question. From what I have experienced so far, I would tell him to believe in himself. Always. I’m quite shy myself, and I’ve doubted myself often. That said, I would want him to believe in himself, and a lot. I would also advise him to not trust everyone. Maybe, because I’ve had my own share of bad experiences from trusting the wrong people, and being too naive at times.

Our QA Kiko and his son

Regarding the first question, I hope it will be a much humbler, calmer world. A better world than the current one. We can see now that as the years go by, the world has become much more tense, and rushed, and that creates uneasiness, and anxiety.

In my childhood, things looked much calmer, at least from what I remember, and from what I’ve heard from my parents. Now, our daily lives are extremely fast, often running on overdrive, and it’s all very exhausting. So I really hope that my son will leave in a calmer, cleaner, and better, more stable world.

Alright. Thanks again for this interview. Would you like to add anything before we go?
When the world gets in my face,
I say, “Have a nice day! Have a nice day!”

Do you want to leave the technical side of your business in the hands of our creative, responsible quality assurance and development team? Send us a message.

What Is It Like to Work with Kiko?

“Kiko is one of my favorite colleagues, I really enjoy talking to him, there’s always something to talk about. He’s funny, knowledgeable and extremely helpful. You can always count on him. It is a pleasure to work with Kiko.”

“He’s a fun guy, and a great professional. His eye for detail, thoroughness, and creativity are unmatched, and I’m really grateful that I’m able to learn from him.”

“Kiko is always there when you need him – no matter if it’s a work-related or personal issue, I can always count on him to help. A great quality assurance specialist, and a good human being. Thanks, Kiko!”