"What should I write about?" I asked my wife. "My Machine Design column is due." She suggested, "Why don't you write about what engineers should be thankful for? It's Thanksgiving, after all. And you can make it semi-humorous."So I sat down to do just that.
Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED Magazine, was just named "Editor of the Year" by AdAge. A year ago, he wrote an article in WIRED called "The Long Tail," and has turned it into a book which will soon be out.What is "The Long Tail"? Without getting into heavy-duty statistics, it says that the Internet has killed Pareto.
The human psyche is leery of anything novel. We like what we're used to; we're suspicious of things that are not like what we already know.In The Secrets of Consulting, Jerry Weinberg points out that a consultant whose advice brings about an improvement of greater than 10% is unlikely to get invited back.
"How did you think the meeting went?" I asked a colleague on his way out of a meeting with a sales prospect. "Oh, I had no real expectations. They probably can't do much, and I am not sure they understood what I told them. But who knows?""You sound pretty negative," I commented. "No," he said, "I'm just realistic. I'm negative by choice."
I'm not an engineer; all my schooling was in math-and abstract math, at that. I've always been in awe of engineers and the engineering process, and have approached both with tremendous respect, as a willing student.
Successful organizations have integrity. All their parts support each other toward a common goal. That makes them efficient, harmonious, and productive. Engineering professionals have tools to help ensure these qualities, but seldom apply them to organizations. Why? What can be done about it?
I read about a nurse who gives talks in high schools and colleges about the importance of basic hygiene-washing your hands frequently, for example. She makes her point graphically: As the students enter the class, she introduces herself to each one and shakes their hand. What they don't know is that there is an invisible powder on her hand that glows under ultraviolet light.
COFES2005 - the sixth annual Conference on the Future of Engineering Software - just ended. I haven't had a chance to consolidate my notes or to summarize the many things I learned. But when I try to visualize the event as a whole, one happy thread runs through it: I picture the nine young people who served in various capacities and participated in some of the events
The nature of our relationship with the world in which we live is elusive. Sometimes we underestimate it, and feel powerless and ineffectual. Occasionally we overestimate it, and are brought up short by unexpected constraints. In large measure, to each of us this world is what we believe it to be. If we see it as a place of opportunity, of abundance, it is. Likewise, if the world is hostile in our minds, a place of adversity - then it is that.
Some of my best friends are engineers. Four of my grandchildren either have, or are on their way to having, an engineering degree. I am not one, but have always admired engineers, and been drawn to the profession.After many years of figuring out what I do best - so I could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up - I think I've found my niche: I'm a helper.
Stuff always seems to be flying by. Email shows up at the top of the stack, pushing down the messages I've yet to attend to. Physical mail comes in. Someone calls and tells me something. I make a promise to do something by a certain date.
Last issue, I discussed how we are slowly (at least in comparison with Moore's Law) learning to use our personal computers for more than just the automation of manual tasksthat is, we have moved from "digital typewriter" to "desktop publisher" and from "digital calculator" to "spreadsheet." In engineering, the transition to "computer-aided design," and not just "computer-aided drafting" has been particularly long and slow.