General Engineering Techniques
Est. read time: 2 minutes | Last updated: February 23, 2024 by John Gentile
- Technical Writing & Documentation
- Simple, correct, fast; in that order.
- What gets measured gets improved. What gets scheduled gets done.
- Follow the Pareto Principle; 80% of something can be developed in 20% of time. However conversely, the hardest 20% of the design takes 80% of the time (e.g. driving to perfection/shipping quality).
- If your product is perfect, you’ve released too late. The first person to market can be twice the cost with half the capability, but the second person has to have twice the capability at half the cost to compete.
- Automate & script everything. Leave time for the important stuff.
- Learning at work is work, and we must make space for it
- Coders can get writer’s block too, try stream-of-conciousness style writing to code development.
- Don’t be afraid of failure.
- Open standards & reuse allow you to iterate faster with relatively less NRE.
- Marketing yourself and your product is extremely important, even more so within a large company to your peers & leaders; all the more reason to be a better speaker & writer. It often doesn’t even matter if you’re the best, think VHS vs Betamax.
- Move processing to data rather than moving data to processing
- Networking can come in the form of being apart of standards bodies (e.g. IEEE) or being a speaker at conferences.
The goal is to find out what’s wrong, and how to resolve the problem, as quickly and effortlessly as possible. With this, there are some fundamental tips and processes one can undergo to greatly aid in debugging:
The 9 Indispensable Rules of Debugging
- Understand the System
- Make It Fail
- Quit Thinking and Look
- Divide and Conquer
- Change One Thing at a Time
- Keep an Audit Trail
- Check the Plug
- Get a Fresh View
- If You Didn’t Fix It, It Ain’t Fixed
Understand the System
It’s pretty simple: you don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t let pride or laziness get in the way of learning your system intimately. You should know as much as possible about what the system’s supposed to do, how it was designed and even why it was designed that way. To this end, read everything relevant to your system from internal theory of operations to design reviews to comments in low level source code so you have a baseline understanding of what’s reasonable.
A deep understanding of the system also lends itself to enabling you to properly fix the bug(s) you find without creating even more havoc or wasted time.
Put simply, make sure you understand the fundamentals of your technical field and just RTFM or read all you can, and preferably before you run into problems. However, be careful with reference designs and examples as they can have bugs all their own.