October 30, 2018 • Smart Resources
Getting Smarter with Larry D’Arcangelo
At Smart Resources, we aren’t just a big group of IT consultants or tech minds. We’re a family. Our team is not only one of the most skilled in the country, but also one of the most interesting. Each month, we feature a conversation with one of our great consultants so that you can get to know us better. This month, say hello to Quality Assurance Analyst Larry D’Arcangelo
Name: Larry D’Arcangelo
Position: Quality Assurance Analyst
Years with Smart Resources: 1
Professional Background in one sentence:
Highly trained Agile-based quality assurance analyst with a keen eye for software usability testing, overall quality, and automated testing.
Describe your typical day.
Typically, I get in each day and check our scrum board. At a glance, I know where every story stands and what is coming down the pipe. From there, I either begin to write test cases for the stories and then I test them once they are deployed. In the mean-time, I automate all of our existing systems using a combination of Selenium and python. This allows our teams to get faster and more accurate feedback from the test team which is crucial for good Agile development shops. Outside of those items, I attend meetings and help our team define user stories and, more importantly from my perspective, the acceptance criteria from those stories.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
That’s easy. Improving the overall feel and flow of our software for the end user is super rewarding. I can’t think of a higher compliment to a quality assurance analyst than when one of our customers tells us how much they enjoyed the application in which I’ve done the quality assurance work on. The fact is, without good quality assurance practices, members of the development team are forced to test and write code at the same time. The end result of such an arrangement normally ends up with low quality code that has only been partially tested. Another fairly rewarding part of my work is getting to help support our development team, bringing out the absolute best in our developers and the code they write. Good software development is a combination of strong development and strong quality assurance work. When either of these items are missing, it will be obvious in the end result.
Tell us about the most memorable moment of your career.
That’s a tough one as I really enjoy what I do. However, I’d have to say that once I really understood the role of QA within an Agile Development shop and when I got to start setting up automation and saving our delivery team from deploying broken code to our production sites, it gave me a really awesome feeling. I remember working for a telematics firm and we were testing everything manually which was causing our sprints to run way over (in some cases by weeks). As time went by, it became obvious that we were only going to survive as an Agile team if someone could come up with an automated testing method. One night after a 50-hour week, at around 3 AM, we needed to do a deployment of new code to our production system. I ran my automation (which at the time wasn’t even known to exist by our management team) and we found major errors in the outputs of some of our API’s. From that point forward, everyone on our team would make sure Larry’s Automation had been run and that I had signed off on it. This lead us ultimately to creating a CI system which ran those same tests automatically when a build was kicked off. In the long term this saved us from a ton of bad builds being deployed to our production environment.
What career advice do you have for someone just starting out in IT?
Develop Deep Technical Skills. A professor I had in college used to say that constantly. I took his word on the matter and I have been rewarded throughout my career. The more items you know how to code, test, design, use, etc., the better off you will be.
Make Yourself Necessary. Find a way to show your employer or potential employer that they need you in order to have their IT shop run smoothly. If you do not feel technical enough to do the work that you have been asked to do, get help from the other folks around you.
Be Honest. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. Some of the biggest issues I’ve seen come up over my career are those that stem from people not knowing when they need to ask for help. Be as friendly as possible, even to people that aren’t friendly to you. In the end you may need their help and it will pay massive dividends.
What will be the biggest tech trend of the next 5 years?
My guess would be advancements in self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence. Folks working on neural networks and other types of AI seem to be more and more commonplace. I’m also excited to see what else the folks in the VR community come up with as I think that industry will continue to grow as well.
Do you have a favorite software program?
Hmm, programs are so 1990’s. I’m a big fan of services such as Netflix or Hulu. I love the ability to use these services and get any video I want, on-demand and on my own time. It is convenient and fun all at the same time.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Richmond area?
Play pinball with my friends and family. Just recently the Richmond Pinball Collective became a thing. If you are ever on the southside and they’re open, make sure to stop in and check it out. The machines are well maintained and the management is super awesome – it’s run by a group of dedicated “pinheads” AKA pinball fans.
Describe your favorite meal.
I grew up in the country, so most of the fancier tastes are wasted on me. With my simple palate, steak and potatoes from a good steak house is about as good as it gets.
What’s your favorite song?
The one my wife and I danced to at our wedding – Mirrors by Justin Timberlake.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Oddly enough yes, I am fairly good at fixing pinball machines. I personally have eight at the moment and I am constantly in my pinball room fixing them, making sure they are in good working order for when our local pinball league comes to play.
What’s your favorite thing to drink in the morning?
Diet Coke – in that respect I am a true techie. I love soda or anything with a sugary sweet taste.
The best movie you’ve ever seen is:
I am a big Sci-Fi fan – I say this pretty often and a lot of times I get odd looks. However, for me, Terminator 2 Judgement Day is still one of the best movies around. Given the technology of the time, the graphics still hold up to today’s CGI. As far as I am concerned, this is Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron’s best film. I even drove two hours to Northern Virginia to watch it recently when it came by to the big screen in 3D.
What’s your most prized possession?
A picture I have of my 3-year-old son, James, and my wife. He is almost an exact replica of his mother (whom I also deeply love).