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ISDN BRI terminal
ISDN BRI terminal similar to the ones used for testing ISDN BRI station features on the DMS 10".

When I first arrived at Nortel, testing was just getting underway for the Q931 ISDN Basic Rate Interface (BRI) implementation. I was handed an existing ISDN BRI call forwarding test plan/specification and told my quota was 35 tests per week; passed or failed.

Call forward is call forward. Some implementation differences exist but the main challenge was becoming familiar with how to provision station features, trunks and ISDN BRI on the DMS-10 in order that I could create the necessary test usage scenarios.

The feature test methodology at Nortel was similar to that of Siemens where I previously worked. Executing a test exactly as written was unlikely to ever uncover a defect.

To find the defects, an individual test had to be viewed as a benchmark from which the tester quickly "tested" around. For each written test, a tester might test 20 or 30 similar but unwritten scenarios.

About the time I was nearing completion of the ISDN BRI call forwarding tests, the order went out to go to round the clock shift work. If I remember correctly, I initially got the second shift which wasn't bad. However, after two weeks, we rotated and now I had midnight to 8:00am which was challenging.

I always found that starting around 3:30am, I would get tired and struggle to stay focused until about 4:30am. I finally decided that best way to deal with that slump was to just get in the car and go to a nearby Waffle House restaurant, order breakfast and a few cups of coffee. The slump almost always passed by 4:30am and I was back to reasonably productive work all things considered.

Unfortunately, at the time the order went out to begin lab shift work, I was just beginning test interactions with ISDN BRI call forward, advanced intelligent network (AIN) and automatic message accounting (AMA) billing. I had little familiarity with AIN or AMA billing. As it turned out, none of the other people sharing my lab shift had much exposure to AIN or AMA billing records.

In order to get the AIN and AMA billing tests completed, I ended up having to stay in the office well into the day shift in order to speak with the necessary experts about how to properly configure and execute the test scenarios.

The lesson here is that while shift work is sometimes unavoidable, staff the shifts such that as broad a skill set as possible is available during the after hour shifts in order that the people assigned to those shifts be able to provide mutual support. The broad skill set may not be the popular skill set but anyone who has ever been in the lab struggling at 3:30am without support when nothing seems to work understands what I mean.

After completing the call forward tests, I was assigned additional unexecuted ISDN BRI station feature test plan/specifications which at this point I no longer recall with clarity exactly which features they were but telephony stations features are station features. There isn't much difference from one implementation to the next. The challenge is always learning the precise implementation and the formidable switch configuration.

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