The Certified Quality Technician Handbook

H. Fred Walker, Donald W. Benbow and Ahmad K. Elshennawy, ASQ Quality Press, 2018, 312 pp., $89 member, $135 list (book).

This is an excellent handbook and important resource covering the body of knowledge that must be mastered for quality technician certification and for a technician’s role in industry.

The book outlines how regulations, standards and quality costs influence the processes and products in businesses, and how to apply basic quality tools and problem-solving techniques. It also covers Six Sigma, lean, plan-do-check-act, statistical techniques, brainstorming and benchmarking. Various measuring tools and their identification, control, calibration, maintenance and traceability are described.

Inspection and testing are treated comprehensively, and the logic and strategy of sampling is discussed when 100% inspection is costly or impractical. Also covered is handling acceptable and nonconforming product from identification and segregation through material review board actions per organization policies and procedures with investigations for root cause, implementation of corrective actions and preventive actions.

There is an excellent focus on quality audits, including the types, components, tools and techniques, and tools used to present audit findings to management.

The final chapter talks about risk management—such as risk assessment via statistical process control and failure mode and effects analysis for product and process monitoring against the control plan, corrective actions for identified issues with determined resolutions—followed-up for verification of effectiveness—and preventive actions using various data analyses to improve the system using mistake-proofing devices or methods to confirm effectiveness and eliminate defects.

Along with the references, glossary and appendixes included, this book is a must-have resource for quality professionals and those taking their certified quality technician exam.

John Lanczycki,
West Springfield, MA

The Problem With Software: Why Smart Engineers Write Bad Code

Adam Barr, MIT Press, 2018, 320 pp., $30 (book).

This book explains why and how there are so many problems with software—even after it has been checked, rechecked and proofed before its release—and why smart, intelligent engineers end up writing bad code.

The author identifies seven areas where improvements must be made. He does not, however, provide explicit solutions to those issues—only suggestions for how the fixes should be implemented. His frustration that the same problems have existed since software engineering originated five decades ago is evident.

The book systematically details the broad areas in which bad code can and usually does occur, and why it occurs. The author does this by following the evolution of computer programming as it grew more and more complicated and pervasive over time. The topic is lightened significantly through entertaining stories illustrating arguments from the author’s own life experiences becoming a professional software engineer. Mostly, issues can be categorized in complexity/clarity, communication/inclusion, education/training or certification/standardization groupings.

Software experience isn’t needed to understand the material. Each code example is explained simply and completely. Programming knowledge would, however, make comprehension of the points easier.

The book has an extensive notes section and complete index. A non-coder might benefit from a separate lexicon repeating the many programming terms, which are well explained in the text but omitted from the index. Similarly, a separate bibliography of the works referenced would be welcomed for those who wish to go back to the original sources.

Anyone—especially management and supervisory staff—who codes or programs, or works with or reviews software will benefit from this book. It points out many areas to watch for when completing a software project.

Marc A. Feldman,
Galveston, TX

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