Meet two Testers: Donna and Michael

In Meet a Tester, we feature QA experts from our community who share their love for quality and Testlio. A married couple from Virginia Beach, Donna and Michael are former naval officers who share a passion for computer sciences and software testing.

Where are you both from and how did you meet?

Donna is from the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. Michael’s father was in the U. S. Air Force, so he moved frequently as a child – no place was “home.” We met in a computer science class at the U.S. Naval Academy, started dating a year later, and got engaged eight weeks after our first date. We graduated and received commissions as Ensigns in the U. S. Navy, and two days later, were married at the Academy’s chapel.  

US Naval officers and future testers
Donna and Michael’s wedding at the Academy’s chapel

After completing our initial service obligation, Donna left the Navy to be home with our children.  Michael flew in the Navy, working in various squadrons, as well as working in several staff positions. Donna started teaching Special Education children when our youngest started school.  She took a break from teaching when our oldest started middle school, but began again, teaching middle school math, when our youngest was in her last year of high school. Michael retired from the Navy after 23 years and went to work as a civilian. 

Testers family portrait
Donna and Michael with their lovely children, Mikayla and Nathaniel (both adopted from South Korea) after Mike’s Navy Retirement.

What is your educational background? 

We both earned a BS in computer science at the Naval Academy back in the days when computers didn’t come with hard drives – just two 5 1/4” floppy drives (and a 20 MB hard drive was top of the line!). This is also when Michael learned that Donna’s superpowers were writing programs that didn’t work and breaking hardware that had previously been working. 

Michael also has a Master’s degree in aeronautical engineering.

How did you both end up testing for Testlio?

Michael found out about Testlio during one of his civilian jobs at a software-based company and suggested it to Donna since she’s good at breaking things. Donna thought we should both try it out, so we did.  

The flexibility and portability are wonderful! We have spent many years apart due to deployments and other work-related travel requirements. Now that our two children are grown and on their own, Donna wants to go with Michael when he has to travel, which is not an option as a teacher, but it is absolutely possible with a laptop and Testlio! We also love the Testlio community. We have met many wonderful people online who are generous with their time, knowledge, and patience – (especially with Donna) to help us be the best testers we can be!

What are your specialties?

Michael can do just about any app or platform. Donna prefers Mac and iOS because it’s harder to accidentally do irreparable damage.

How does Testlio’s pay compare to other crowd testing platforms? 

We tried a couple of other crowd testing platforms, and Testlio is the best! Some platforms only pay you if you find bugs (and are the first to report them), even if you’ve spent several hours running a test suite. Testlio is more concerned with quality work and a person’s valuable time, which we both appreciate. 

How do you balance testing and personal life?

Donna has scheduled an hour for relaxation in the calendar each night. Unless something is truly important, that hour is non-negotiable “downtime.” It also helps that when personal emergencies happen, we’re able to change our work preferences to “away” on the Testlio platform until we are able to return to testing. There’s no one demanding that we get x, y, or z done while we’re “away” dealing with a situation or enjoying a much-needed vacation.

What motivates you professionally?

Donna – knowing I’m a valued member of the team and that I’m making a difference. 

Michael – being part of a process that ensures quality for a product, process or experience. It is satisfying to say, “I was part of that!”

What’s an interesting fact about yourselves?

Donna spends her downtime weaving, knitting or doing some other type of needlework or crafts. She tends to collect hobbies.

Michael is a great cook!  He spends his downtime on his tablets, computers, and other tech – he always enjoys dabbling with programming. He also enables Donna’s hobby collecting.

We’re both Disney Dorks! We love going to Disney World and on Disney Cruises. Donna and Michael both want to eventually visit every Disney park in the world. We love to travel!

Two testers at Disneyworld
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, December 2019

What are some of your favorite apps?

Donna’s new favorite app is Trello because it’s helping her organize the 9,000 tabs that are always open in her brain. The UI is very intuitive and it’s multi-platform, so there are a lot fewer post-it notes around the house now.

Michael likes to use Notepad++, an open-source program for Windows and Linux, which allows automatic formatting in a variety of different text formats (C++, Java, JSON, etc.) – makes some of his analytical tasks very easy to examine and manipulate.

How would you convince a friend to join Testlio?

By telling them about the flexibility, portability, and community. Often the ease of testing products and rewards for quality work speak for themselves. The fact that there is a great community of people all working for a common purpose makes the company very attractive.  People often ask, “why do you do that on the side?” – because we love the challenge, but we love the people more!