Posts Tagged 'Engineering'

Maps and Plans

Every journey goes more smoothly with a map of some sort. Whether it’s a trip to Antarctica or developing firmware for a new microcontroller-based device, it helps to know where you’re going. Without a clear definition of the destination it’s tough to know when you’ve actually arrived. It is also helpful to know what it is, exactly, you expect to find when you do finally arrive. Continue reading ‘Maps and Plans’

Fear of the Unknown

Humans are strange creatures. In general we like things to be nice and predictable; the same tomorrow as today, and the same as yesterday. I don’t have any hard data to reference, but I suspect that, overall, the human race is rather conservative. We don’t like new things that challenge our current beliefs and knowledge. This is ironic, considering that we now live in a time where change is about the only reliable constant, and new things are appearing at an astounding pace. Continue reading ‘Fear of the Unknown’

The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 4

This is fourth and final (for now) part of “The Wary Engineer’s Notebook”. In this installment we’ll take a quick but jaundiced look at documentation.

Just remember that this is all intended to be humorous in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek way, so please don’t get spun up thinking I’m trying to insult you or your dress code. I wouldn’t dream of it. Honest.

If you’re not sure what this is all about then please go back and read Part 1 first.

Continue reading ‘The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 4′

The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 3

This is third installment of “The Wary Engineer’s Notebook”. In this episode we take a look at those joyous and stimulating events known as “Reviews”.

Just remember that this is all intended to be humorous in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek way, so please don’t get spun up thinking I’m trying to insult you or your dress code. I wouldn’t dream of it. Honest.

If you’re not sure what this is all about then please go back and read Part 1 first.

Continue reading ‘The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 3′

The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 2

This is second installment of “The Wary Engineer’s Notebook”. This one deals with one of my favorite things: Meetings.

Just remember that this is all intended to be humorous in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek way, so please don’t get spun up thinking I’m trying to insult you or your dress code. I wouldn’t dream of it. Honest.

If you’re not sure what this is all about then please go back and read Part 1 first.

Continue reading ‘The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 2′

The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 1

One day, while in the midst of a long and really scary project involving 60 hour work weeks, an inept manager, mounds of paperwork and a customer with a meeting fetish, I had an epiphany. I put aside my work for a little while, barred my office door and attempted to capture some tiny bits of this cosmic illumination before it slipped away. A collection of little essays is the result, which I’ve edited and expanded a bit here and there using the perfect 20/20 vision of hindsight (a great thing, hindsight, too bad it’s uni-directional).

Continue reading ‘The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 1′

Why Building Stuff is Hard

If you work in a technology related field you may have encountered the situation where someone, be it a well-meaning relative or a new acquaintance at a party, will hear about what you do for a living and then say “Hey, I have this great idea! Why don’t I tell you about it and you can make it, then we can get rich!”.  Or, they might say (as my father was want to do) “You’re smart, why aren’t you working for yourself building clever things instead of working for someone else?”

The person saying this may even be well-educated and not someone who seemed to escape from a mental hospital (my father was a medical doctor). They might even have a really good idea. Sadly, however, what they don’t have is a clue. This is one of the main reasons I go out of my way to avoid telling people what I do for a living and the things I’ve worked on. I get weary of the typical stereotypes, so I just mumble something about working with computers and then try to wander off before they can press the issue.

But it isn’t just the clueless folks who think that building stuff is easy. People who should know better (in my opinion, anyway) also fall into the trap of thinking that things should be easy. The problem is that there is a very, very big step between putting some sketches and notes on a piece of paper, and actually making something that works. The notes and sketches are the easy part, and BS costs nothing.

Continue reading ‘Why Building Stuff is Hard’