One year ago, I graduated with degrees in communications and writing. In high school, I reluctantly took a physics class and regularly got somewhere around 50% on the tests. The last time I stepped foot in a math class was in May of 2014.
Suffice to say, I don’t know everything that’s going on technology-wise at Zebulon Solutions.
As our marketing specialist, I do ask questions about different projects and try to understand exactly what we’re working on. For some of the bigger projects that I can see and conceptualize, I volunteer my help for menial tasks: I am great at taking apart exactly one model of an industrial printer and putting them back together again; I’m excellent at pressing buttons on an air compressor and recording the measurement results (Gauge R&R, as the engineers call it); and I’m a true pro at opening and closing test fixtures over and over again without ever seeing the results. In the time of Coronavirus, the latter is one of the few things I can still do as we wait for the state, country, and world to resume some sort of normal so we can restart more projects.
With lots of companies shut down completely, Zebulon Solutions is lucky to still have projects to work on remotely and be able to keep up some semblance of business as usual, just virtually. While my engineering, supply chain, and operations-inclined co-workers focus on the work they can continue on their projects, I am left in an empty lab with the familiar test fixtures. In the time of Coronavirus, we’ve worked out ways to test two times a week, instead of our usual four, while maintaining health and safety protocols, since testing is a solitary activity. Plus, if anyone else needs to come into the office a different day, we just get to work with our disinfecting wipes.
In an NDA-compliant nutshell, my job is to test something that should work kind of like a motion sensor, for some motions but not for others. I complete said tests by opening, closing, making noise at, and moving items in relation to the sensor. The data I record while doing so moves wirelessly to the cloud, where hordes of our customers’ engineers (or so I imagine) can remotely and safely analyze this data. Because it’s long term testing to collect and analyze a lot of data (we’ve been at this for years), I usually do a small set of these procedures every day and one of my coworkers manages the data collection for the customer.
Almost everyone in the office has been roped into this particular testing at some point or another, and everyone seems to have their own strategies to break up the monotony: podcasts, music, stretching and small workouts between testing, and multitasking with other work. I’ve tried all of these, but seven hours of testing a week makes most of it seem old. Plus, multitasking seems to cause more mistakes than they’re worth, and I’m far too uncoordinated for the stretching and squats. I may find myself going back to music or podcasts but, ever since my discounted student subscription to Spotify Premium expired, commercials between the same Hamilton songs I’ve listened to a thousand times get tedious.
Testing procedures have also changed around over the months and the current tests involve quite a bit of sitting around so my newest tactic is watching YouTube videos. That’s right, in the time of Coronavirus I sit in an otherwise empty and silent lab for three and a half hours twice a week and kill off brain cells watching strange, niche comedy, like a good millennial.
For anyone somehow in a similar situation, may I recommend the following:
- The Try Guys
Since the Coronavirus panic started they’ve been releasing three videos a week plus two episodes of their podcast, which provides about three hours of content each week.
- Buzzfeed Multiplayer
In particular, The Sim’s 100 Baby Challenge. Now that it’s back for Season 2, a 25ish minute episode comes out every Saturday morning and I wait very patiently until I test on Tuesdays to watch it.
- Good Mythical Morning
I have no strategy for watching these in any order but there are a few thousand videos to keep me busy.
- Clips from any decent comedian
Saturday Night Live, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel and/or Fallon: YouTube is programmed to recommend the most popular clips and ones that are most similar to other videos you’ve watched. Sometimes the all-seeing algorithms are good for us.
While testing in the time of Coronavirus still gets me out of the house during an otherwise empty week, and gives those engineering hordes working from home their weekly data fix, I can’t wait to return to my regularly scheduled work days. where I can procrastinate on moving back to the lab, talk to my co-workers, and have office snacks in between rounds of testing.