Advanced Testing Goals 2011

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The following goals were brainstormed by Advanced Testing staff at a meeting on Tuesday March 15, 2011. AT staff should feel free to add to this list

We need to separate goals into short-term and long-term, and prioritize the goals listed.


  • Regular instructor trainings

10/12/13 Update

BETA has instituted a training checklist. New interns are trained according to the checklist by paid BETA staff members. Training is ongoing for the length of the internship. When a new intern (instructor) becomes proficient in replicating the task perfectly they will then be allowed to show new interns or volunteers the task. Typically they do not do the initial instruction, which is always done by paid staff. This maintains a consistent start for interns but allows them to demonstrate their ability and learn how to teach and interact with equally-skilled (equally un-skilled?) peers. We typically do not have formal group-based training at this time. 10/12/13 Update

Volunteer Experience

  • "Challenge Box" box of strange gizmos that need to be figured out that volunteers can choose from
  • More volunteer rewards
  • Opportunity to teach other volunteers

10/12/13 Update

We have an abundance of strange gizmos, advanced level interns may interact with strange devices based on their ability and progress through the training checklist.

We do not have more volunteer rewards, and at this time hesitate to compensate volunteers aside from the knowledge they will undoubtedly gain for themselves.

Volunteers can and do have opportunities to teach other volunteers. Volunteers teach the hardware ID class, they teach fellow volunteers in both system evaluation and the hardware testing area as well as the build program. Several interns specifically focus on education and training per their personal program goals.


  • Finding appropriate tasks for volunteers of varying ability
  • Wheelchair accessibility (less deep long bench)
  • Expanding Spanish Post-Build (+ other languages)
  • Matching up volunteers who teach with those who want to learn

10/12/13 Update

We have a variety of tasks for volunteers of varying ability, as well as a logical progression of difficulty which generally allows unskilled volunteers to progress towards a moderate level of technical ability regardless of their background.

We have roughly the same level of wheelchair accessibility, there are four wheelchair accessible bench positions and two that are not accessible due to their height. We have also accommodated deaf individuals as well as the sight impaired and blind.

I cannot comment on the state of Spanish Post-Build, perhaps Omar has an update.

We have done an excellent job of matching volunteers who would prefer to instruct others to relevant tasks as well as encouraging less enthusiastic interns to participate in shared or group teaching, generally to their overall benefit.


  • Testing new gizmos (laptop RAM)
  • Process for testing smart phones
  • Better system for tracking store returns

10/12/13 Update

Laptop (SO-DIMM) RAM is still tested by laptops. Desktop-style boards that support SO-DIMM RAM are uncommon and typically ill-suited towards RAM-testing, although we could consider this in the future if it is absolutely necessary.

We have a process for testing smart phones, which is currently undertaken by staff due to the sensitive nature of data available on smart phones. Because testing and wiping the phone occur almost simultaneously, much if not all of the testing can be accomplished by the staff member while sanitizing the data. Additionally, the overall number of working smart phones is not that large and does not require a great number of labor hours between staff and interns.

We have a poor system of tracking store returns, they arrive in a box from the store (generally unmarked aside from the return stickers on individual items) and it is oftentimes unclear whether the devices are genuinely malfunctioning or were returned for some other reason. A better inventory and tracking system for the department would be very helpful for stocking, inventory, and creating efficiency metrics.


  • Help volunteers understand "big picture" of how hardware works
  • Understanding the wiki (have a class on this?)

10/12/13 Update

We try to help volunteers understand the "big picture" through demonstrated lessons, teachable moments, direct instruction, and exposure to a variety of hardware tasks. This approach has been successful for some interns, but is not comprehensive or planned out enough for the majority to benefit. A more clear outline and documentation about "the big picture" would be beneficial - however, it would appear that the majority of staff lack a critical understanding of hardware as well. This issue remains present in our system currently.

We do not have a wiki class for volunteers, they are typically instructed using wiki printouts or by referring to specific wiki pages. They have access to the wiki for gathering information but the majority ask a staff member rather than cite the wiki, as the wiki is extremely outdated and the instructions have become less and less accurate as technology progresses. This is a major issue for BETA in general.


  • Standardize Documentation ( perhaps have an internship for this )
  • Different levels of documentation
  • Technical Review
  • Universal wiki standards for the area

10/12/13 Update

We have not yet standardized documentation, although new documentation is typically created in a fairly consistent style there is not yet a written or published guide. We would prefer not to rely on interns for mission-critical elements such as documentation, by and large they lack understanding of the greater purpose, as well as the written style and accuracy needed for wiki-level documentation. That is why they are interns.

We do not have multiple levels of documentation, aside from the convoluted morass that makes up the freeki-wiki in general.

I'm not sure what technical review means, but we have been upgrading the testing equipment in order to keep pace with the donations typically received for testing, which have improved over time.

We do not have universal wiki standards nor has much work been undertaken on the wiki, due to staffing and time constraints.


  • Universal/generic testing stations
    • These could be hard to set up and take down, maybe have "semi-generic" testing stations?
  • Room for more stations
  • More communal space (stuff in the middle)

10/12/13 Update

We have tried to expand the testing ability of our stations. We have improved from the existing configuration by adding more testing tasks to each station; however due to the nature of the existing intranet it is impossible to perform all of the testing tasks using the number of ethernet drops assigned to each board, the lack of additional network access points is the major factor.

We have a total of six stations including RAM testing and it is unlikely we will have room for more while maintaining wheelchair access as well as breathing room.

We do not have much communal space; with system evaluation taking up the old Advanced Testing area the new space is mostly storage, testing equipment, and workstations.

The TARDIS has been annexed, but no Advanced Testing room was gained due to aforementioned System Eval venue change.

Volunteer & Other Stakeholder Buy-In

how to include or represent these stakeholders in the goal-setting process. Who do we want buy-in from?


  • Monthly AT meetings
  • For interns: check-in after 1 month to get & give feedback


We do not have monthly AT meetings, very little time or attention has been given to documentation or improvements in this area aside from the development of the internship program.

The interns now receive regular (near-weekly) check-ins as well as consistent feedback on their progression.

Store Staff

  • Tracking store returns
  • Online whiteboard
  • AT presence at Sales meetings

10/12/13 Update

There is no current tracking system for store returns aside from a paper tag which may or may not be taped to the item.

We do have an online whiteboard, however the store updates it only once or twice a quarter rather than on a regular basis.

AT does not have a presence at sales meetings, although they should be more involved with sales, both online and in the store.


  • store returns

10/12/13 Update

Still no specific plan aside from the occasionally-used paper slip.

Build/Adoption Programs

  • orient System Eval interns

10/12/13 Update

There is a full orientation plan in place and in use by BETA interns.


10/12/13 Update

The NPA program has been disbanded.

Online Sales

  • better system to know the amount of stuff that can be sold online and how much should be kept for internal use

10/12/13 Update

Currently, we offer the most valuable and compact higher-end items for online sales. This generates the best return on investment for devices with a higher dollar value, very few low end items are sold online UNLESS they are available in bulk, which BETA and other departments currently determine based on stock levels in their area.


  • circulating hard drives
  • assisting with HW demands

10/12/13 Update

Advanced Testing no longer deals with harddrives, which have been moved to the SDA for wiping and distribution.

Laptops is now self-supporting and receives little if any help from Advanced Testing.


  • better/more communication
  • orienting the technocrats so that they know what goes on in AT/why we do certain things

10/12/13 Update

We have little contact with Technocrats beyond their support of our networking infrastructure.