My latest Element14 article is based directly on my experience as a new engineer at Keithley. Anyone will tell you how tough an error budget can be to work out, but I was amazed at all of the things it did for my job there and my career for years to come. After all, if you are responsible to accounting for all of the error sources, you have to know what they are!
To the companies that look past these challenges, go great benefits! The new hire gets the best experience possible: direct access to a senior engineer where lessons on how different circuits work will undoubtedly occur often. This is where the majority of learning and passing of company knowledge happens and should be encouraged at every turn. The junior engineer also gains the opportunity to be the resident expert on a topic by leading a project, all within 6 months of starting work. The manager also has a lot to gain. With the significant challenges listed above, leading an error budget is an extraordinary vetting ground to determine what the rookie is capable of.
You mean to tell me that piracy will become possible with tangible parts? Yup, download a file that can be read by a 3-D printer to MAKE pirated goods. Some manufacturers might fear this notion, but I don’t think it is something to be scared of. See what I mean in my latest blog post:
First off, it is always bad to fear things that cannot be controlled. Physibles (data objects that can become physical objects) will become a reality on some level. If it ends up being possible and prevalent to print running shoes, piracy prevention measures will likely be as effective as DRM has been for music and movies. So let’s all just calm down about how to stop the technology and think about how to use it….
Read the full article HERE!
While working at Keithley I spent an immense amount of time working with error budgets and now that I’ve taken a few steps back from that experience I can really appreciate the power they provide to a designer. Without getting too technical (since error budgets are VERY technical), I show what they are and how they can benefit a design process if allowed to soak up engineering time:
Many people have heard of power budgets where an engineer sums up the power consumed by each part in a design under the different modes of operation to determine if there are any problems with power supplies or battery life (it is also a great double-check on an individual part’s power consumption for thermal reasons). The same type of operation can be carried out on analog circuits to see if the sum of all part errors is too much for a design to reliably work…..
Check out the full article HERE!
I am a firm believer that contracts are a GOOD thing. Not only is it an opportunity for reasonable people to write down their expectations and assumptions at one time, but memories have a habit of drifting from reality. Issues on responsibility, payments, ownership, etc… need to have some reference point that both parties agreed to during less contentious times. Used correctly, they can save arguments, professional relationships, and friendships. I’m afraid that not everyone shares this fundamental view of what contracts are and can do:
…..Here is what most people don’t realize about contract negotiations: it is a back and fourth. They proposed a contract that Jim doesn’t like, so the ball is in his court to propose a change that will make both parties happy. Simply saying “I’m not signing that” is a great way for him to be perceived as an uncooperative jerk. Instead, Jim will explain his situation and that he has come up with a solution that he thinks will protect the company’s interests while allowing him to live life. Here is how he wants to change the contract:……
I love everything about kits. I build what I use, I know how to fix it, and I can get any part I find broken. It is sad that there aren’t more people that are into this sort of thing because the DIY-ers don’t represent a significant enough portion of any market to drive manufacturers to offer their products as kits. Given that we are currently in full last-minute-gift-shopping mode, I thought this article about why kits are the way to go would be well timed:
…Now as I am older (read: paying more bills) I find myself identifying with some aspects of minimalist living. Living this way makes me lament the fact that more products aren’t sold as kits. I understand the reasons behind kits being unpopular: it is easier to buy than build, and the prices are lower thanks to cheap, non-serviceable production completed by people working for low wages.
But what so few consider is the inevitable occurrence of a ‘cheap and easy’ device breaking. Or worse, when an expensive name-brand device breaks because the manufacturer decided to offshore production and ‘optimize’ the design for cost savings. I’m tired of stuff breaking almost as often as the R/C car I’d drive off ramps at 25 MPH. What really drives me up the wall is when I attempt to repair it, finding that the device was designed only to make it beyond the 1-year warranty period and NEVER be serviced. Even when I do get into the device and determine root cause, finding a replacement part that I can buy for less than 50% of the entire unit’s purchase price is unlikely…
Have you ever worked on a project that gets canceled for some political or other reason not related to the technical potential? Kind of drives you insane. I just canceled a project of mine for strictly political reasons, and it gave me a better understanding of why it happens. Always good to look at things from other points of view:
Once I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the approach I would take and how feasible it would be I brought up my brilliant idea with the wife, expecting interest and excitement in the technology and its unique application. However I decided to shelve the project inside of half a second once I read the beautiful face of my intended user. Her verbal response to my idea put the final nail in the coffin:
“I don’t swerve that much, do I?”
Any amount of swerve reduction that the device might yield would be far outweighed by my wife having a constant reminder of the things I don’t like about her driving. Not exactly the ‘Apple’ experience one would hope for.
It was a first hand lesson in why projects get canceled for political reasons. Yes, the potential for a cool product with great results got canned. I was excited for the chance to learn about the latest display technology for this type of application. I hated to see the little bit of time and energy spent go unused. But despite all of this, life would be worse for the person calling the shots if the project were to continue.
Read the full article here!