The upside to college internships: Part 2

Tom Collins, “Yes, like the drink.”  –  I.T. Department

Tom is the IT department intern and has been thrown headlong into a busy time as the team works to roll out TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®’s new automation system, “Movers Who Care® 2”.  I met Tom during our orientation on the first day, and he has since been a very friendly face to see and chat with around the office. He is always able to laugh when people compare him to the gin cocktail. I sat down with Tom to check in on his experience so far, and this is what he had to say:

Tom CQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?

A:  Well, I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and went to Portage Central High School where I played football. I am a senior at Michigan State University studying supply chain management with a specialization in information technology. I’m in Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, and I love to play golf, slow pitch softball and participate in pretty much any outdoor activity.

Q: What made you apply for an internship with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®?

A: I worked as a mover over at the Lansing franchise last year and heard about the internship while working there. It seemed like a great opportunity so I decided to apply.

Q: Can you please briefly describe your usual day-to-day tasks at the office?

A: Usually I start with doing a quick test of the system. From there I work on retesting and fixing the issues to ensure they get working again. Then I’ll enter the fixed bugs into the test manager.

Q: What has been the most valuable thing you have learned here so far?

A: I have learned, and seen firsthand, the value of a good group community atmosphere, where everyone gets along.  Teamwork is so important and makes everyone more productive.

Q:  Who would you say has been your best teacher or mentor here and why?

A: Megan Blaha, (Application Software Tester) , and James Hartley, (Application Tester),  have been a huge help to me. They are both very patient and understanding and will always take time out of what they’re doing to help me if I’m having an issue.

Q: How do you think you will be able to apply what you learn this summer to school, future interviews/jobs or life in general?

A:  I will be able to apply the newfound technical skills I have gained here to give me an edge over my peers and other applicants when interviewing for a job. I already have a skill with technology but my internship has made me more proficient in certain areas.

Q:  Has your internship taught you anything about IT that surprised you?

A: I am studying application of systems at MSU, not so much development like the team here is doing with Movers Who Care® 2, so I’ve learned a lot about how much it really takes to develop and implement a system. The huge scale of how much really goes into it was surprising.

Q: What do you believe is the best aspect of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® as a large, international company?

A:  I like the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisee opportunities. Hard workers can open up a franchise and create a very successful business with it. It opens opportunities for success to a lot of people where they may not have had one before.

Q: What is one goal you hope to accomplish this summer/what do you hope to take away from your internship?

A: I hope to become proficient with many of the difficult software systems and better my technical skills so I can apply them wherever I end up working.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

More than Movers (Part 2): Disconnected Application

Written by James Hartley

Many of you may have heard the development team at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®/INTERNATIONAL, Inc. has been working on a Movers Who Care® 2 Disconnected Application (MWC2DA). If you haven’t, no worries, I am going to give a brief explanation.

In-Home Consultant Ben uses the tablet to generate estimates while on walk throughs.

In-Home Consultant Ben uses the tablet to generate an estimates during a walk through.

The MWC2DA started out as a tool that would allow our customer service representatives (CSRs) to keep scheduling moves in the event that an Internet outage occurs. Its current functionality will allow users to look up and edit customers and estimates up to 90 days back while in disconnected mode. It will also allow the user to create new customers and estimates. Once the host computer has an Internet connection, it will synchronize new or edited records with the MWC2 database. Once this application is fully developed and in production, it will provide a safety net to ensure our customers are being serviced.

MWC2DA can also be a useful tool for our in-home estimators. Imagine how easy it will be for them to create an estimate and automatically synchronize that estimate to the MWC2 database upon returning to the office. To make things even easier, MWC2DA can be installed on Windows 8 tablets. These devices typically have a small form factor and better than average battery life. According to David Robinson, software developer on this project, the system requirements are very modest. To run the disconnected application at optimal performance, he recommends the following: Intel Core i3 processor or higher, 4GB of RAM, 500MB of free disk space, and Intel Integrated Graphics 4000.

We have been getting a lot of questions lately as to which tablets currently on the market are compatible with MWC2DA. Parker Olson, a member of the test team, has compiled a list of all the Windows 8 tablets to help answer these questions. I have taken that list and further organized based on hardware specifications. The following list is broken down into three categories: Incompatible, Non Optimal, and Optimal. Please note that these prices were collected at the time this list was made; they are subject to change.

Tablets

The Incompatible category is comprised of Windows 8 tablets that will not work with the disconnected application. This is because they are using ARM based processors that will not allow the installation of desktop applications. They are only capable of running applications downloaded from the Windows App Store.

The Non Optimal category is comprised of Windows 8 tablets that will work with the disconnected application. However, because of the hardware used in these tablets they may be prone to slow performance. This is especially true when trying to multi-task.

The Optimal category is comprised of Windows 8 tablets that will work with the disconnected application. Furthermore, these tablets will run at optimal performance. Users can multi-task without worrying about performance issues with the tablets hardware.

Please note that Home Office is not recommending any particular brand of Windows 8 tablet. This list is only to serve as a guide to what hardware will provide users with the best performance when running MWC2 disconnect and web application.

Thank you for following me on Movers Who Care and Blog. Please keep an eye out for more blogs from me in the near future. Also, if there is a topic you would like me to write about please feel free to email me with requests at james.hartley@twomen.com. Please put Blog Suggestions in the subject line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Hartley is a application/software tester in the Technology Support department at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK/INTERNATIONAL, Inc.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

More Than Movers (Part 1): Test Automation

By James Hartley, application/software tester Technology SupportJames Hartley

Whenever I tell someone I work for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, they typically respond, “That must be really hard work”, to which I smile and respond, “Yes it is”. Many people assume that if I work for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, I must be a mover. This is because they do not realize the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure our customers have the best possible moving experience possible.

For instance, our proprietary move management software (Movers Who Care® 2) is developed in-house. According to Corey Lasley, the application development manager here at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, Movers Who Care® 2 consists of more than 228,252 lines of code and 8,174,736 characters. These numbers are very impressive, especially when taking into consideration that Movers Who Care® 2 was released just 17 months after development started.

This is the first blog in a series I am calling “More than Movers”. In this series I will write about the work being done behind the scenes that directly impacts the quality of service we provide to our customers. I will begin with a project that is being jointly developed by the Application Development and Quality Assurance teams.

Test Automation

Test automation is the use of special software to execute tests and then compare actual outcomes to expected outcome. There are several benefits to automating software testing.

1)      It allows for the addition of test cases that would normally be too difficult to perform manually.

2)      Automated testing is much faster than manually testing. Therefore, the Quality Assurance team can cover a larger portion of the software being tested on any given build cycle.

3)      Automated testing can be more effective in finding certain classes of defects than manual testing. This allows for the delivery of more reliable software to the end users.

The Software Development Team at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is known in the development community as a “Microsoft Shop”. This is because they are using Microsoft products such as Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server (TFS) for all development. It turns out this was a huge benefit to our test automation project because we were able to fully leverage the testing capabilities built into TFS. Therefore we have one single integrated system for creating software and then testing its functionality.

Having a fully integrated system allows testers and developers to break through barriers that typically exist between the two teams. As a result the quality of software goes up. This is a good thing considering poor software quality costs the United States economy $59,500,000,000 every year. Lost revenue is not the only consequence of poor software quality. At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® poor software quality affects our ability to deliver the best possible service to our customers. For example, if Movers Who Care® 2 is not functioning properly, it can affect the speed and accuracy of estimates we deliver to our customers.

So you see TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is much more than a company of movers. We are developers, software testers, customer service representatives, movers, managers, etc. … all working together as one system. I think President Randy Shacka put it best:

“In everything we do we believe in moving people forward. We do this by living our core values, providing opportunities for employees, giving back to our communities, and treating each customer’s items as if they were our own with care and respect. We just happen to provide relocation services.”