Archive for May, 2008

A Different Kind of QA: Calling all Engineers

It’s common for people to ask why a good engineer like myself would want to work in QA, especially when you have to fight the stigma’s of QA, namely:

1) You are in QA because you are not good enough for development

2) You are in QA as a stepping stone for development

3) You are in QA because you don’t like coding

My response to those statements: pish-posh. While these statements may apply to some people in the field, they certainly don’t apply to the people serious about QA. A good QA Engineer solves quality problems with an algorithmic intensity that rivals traditional programmers. They are a true hacker in the older sense of the word – they are here to find and exploit the problems in the system in any way possible.

Every problem has its boundaries. For most developers, the boundaries for implementing solutions are usually confined to one language, stack, or technology. The boundaries for problem solving in QA are generally much wider, simply because our solutions don’t have to be productized, exposed to the public, and aren’t necessarily even in the same language or stack.

This allows a much wider range of creative freedom when solving problems. Learning new languages and technologies becomes essential for your work. Having a large arsenal of tools to attack a problem becomes a necessary part of the job. This provides you with even more of a reason to learn about the latest and greatest in tech, which is something that appeals to all engineers alike.

At Xobni we approach QA differently than most. The people we look for are not here because they are not good enough for development. They are not here because they don’t like coding. The QA people here are expected to be at the top of their game. They are expected to build and create software that can topple the Jenga-like building blocks of our product. They are expected to be creative people who like to learn, explore, and exploit software.

That being said, Xobni is looking for a QA engineer! Check out the job post, and send resumes to ryan dot gerard at xobni.com if you think you can rock our world.

We call our QA team’s room the Pirate Lair (see above).

Where did we get the name Xobni?

Etymology

Back in the spring of 2006 Adam was talking with Paul Graham, our first investor, about naming the email company Paul had just invested in. Adam was toying with the name “InboxAdvisor” mostly because he was consulting at a consumer Internet security company called SiteAdvisor at the time.

Paul suggested that Adam use the word “inbox” spelled backwards. Paul is known for this type of momentary genius. Adam went home, and registered the available (!!) five letter domain name http://www.xobni.com for $8.00. It is nearly impossible to find a five letter domain name these days, and yet we found one that actually had something to do with the company we were building.

Pronunciation

From the beginning we pronounced Xobni with a long ‘o’: Zobe-nee. Friends who have known Xobni since the beginning still pronounce the name with a long ‘o’. As the company began to get more exposure however, we found that everyone was pronouncing Xobni with a short ‘o’, including Bill Gates. Rather than fighting the tide, we now officially pronounce the name with a short ‘o’: Zob-nee , but it wasn’t until a few months ago that we removed the line over the ‘o’ in our logo, which was our early attempt at forcing the long ‘o’ pronunciation. Lesson: Don’t try to force user behavior or pronunciation.

Logo

There are a lot of fun things you can try with a company name that’s spelled backwards. I think a lot of early stage companies spend too much time worrying about names and logos. We did too. Below are the major milestones in the progression of our logo:

Okay, I’ll take the blame on this one. Yuck! I’ve never been called an artist. And this was the image on our first business card. I wonder what the VCs thought when we handed our cards across the board room table.

Finally, my Photoshop skills improved and I discovered my new favorite font: Trebuchet MS

We hired Bryan “rounded corners” Kennedy. Everything got nicer around here with Bryan on the team.

This is the logo we launched with at Techcrunch40

For public launch, Jeff insisted that we go lowercase and remove the line over the ‘o’. It was a good call, but my nostalgic side cried a little bit. We also tried a new method of highlighting the ‘backwards’ inbox.

But if you take a close look at our mascot, the Xobni man, you may notice a vestige of the days of old:

Misspellings

I wonder how many people visiting our website fail to realize xobni is the word “inbox” spelled backwards? We see misspellings of our company name in the media and in the Google searches that drive traffic to our site. Here are my favorite misspellings of X-O-B-N-I:

1. Xobini
2. Xobin
3. Xobnini
4. Xoboni
5. Xonbi
6. Xobani
7. Zobni
8. Zobny

Okay, I’ll admit it. I wanted to find a way to work the misspellings of “xobni” into a blog post. With our good pagerank this blog post should quickly move to the top of the Google search results for all xobni misspellings.

Xobni Launches Public Beta

Today is an exciting day for everyone at Xobni. After seven months of invite-only beta, and over two years of product development, we’re proud to announce that Xobni is now publicly available for anyone to download. Xobni can be downloaded for free here.

The official press release for our launch can be found here.

Today’s New York Times is covering our successful beta program and the public launch of Xobni here.

It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point. Our team has grown from two guys in an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts to a group of 14 dedicated team members in San Francisco that call Xobni home.

While the Xobni team has been working hard to make Xobni a success, our users also deserve a lot of credit. Your feedback has been essential in helping us to improve the performance and features of Xobni over the past seven months. We have responded to thousands of support and feedback emails from the over 50,000 individuals that have downloaded Xobni during our seven month closed beta period. We have had several dozen beta users visit us at the Xobni headquarters for user studies and another several dozen users have done remote performance and configuration tests with our engineers.

We will continue to work hard to improve the Xobni experience. Xobni has done a lot to improve our users’ email lives, but email and personal information still have a long way to go. Xobni and its users still have a long way to go, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

For Current Xobni Beta Users

If you are currently running Xobni it will automatically update to the latest version. If you need to re-download Xobni, you can download it instantly here.

Please let your friends and colleagues know that a better Outlook email experience awaits them at Xobni.com.

Thanks!


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About Xobni

Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.

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