Random Ramblings on LabVIEW Design

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Foolishness as a software tool.

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WillyShakespeare wrote:

He that a fool doth very wisely hit

Doth very foolishly, although he smart,

Not to seem senseless of the bob: if not,

The wise man's folly is anatomized

Even by the squandering glances of the fool.

Invest me in my motley; give me leave

To speak my mind, and I will through and through

Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,

If they will patiently receive my medicine.

When we started out writing "A Software Engineering Approach to LabVIEW" we wanted to base it on a financial book called the Motley Fool, (I was going to link to it but it appears that it has become the very thing it was fighting against). The purpose of the book was to debunk the artificial complexity involved in finance in a sharp and humorous manner. Top-tip writing light-hearted is hard work!

Now the great thing about being a Fool is that you can say things and to hell with the consequences. Inhibitions to foolishness come in the following forms

  • Insecurity
  • Personal connections
  • Corporate/Business
  • Cultural

Looking at each in turn...

Insecurity

I have only ever been to university to write software, my education was primarily writing software and fixing machines in factories. So in a room full of qualified engineers, Champions, CLAs etc etc I sometimes feel out of my depth. Generally this exhibits itself in lack of participation. Luckily my big mouth and tiny attention span help over-ride this. I wonder how many project blunders could have been avoided without these inhibitions.

Personal Connections

The classic here is when a client becomes a friend, said client then gets into problems with a project. Strictly speaking you should speak out for the good of the project, but this would get them into trouble. This is quite close to my heart. I think the nature of LabVIEW is that we are always at the pointy end of a job, bad design decisions will be exposed at this time.

Corporate/Business

We get a fair bit of work from our industry relationships, this work is marvelous for us as we don't like selling, so any jobs that come to us are most appreciated. There is therefore a pressure to censor some of the things that pop into our heads. This is actually less of a problem than you would imagine, because it is in everyone's interests to have a successful job we tend to all pull in similar directions.

Cultural

These pressures are very hard to overcome but they all have the affect of restricting free participation (the heart of foolishness IMO).

Age - We're mostly brought up to respect our elders, all well and good. But because you're older then me doesn't make you right!

Seniority - Your wage packet dictates a certain amount of care when dealing with management. But because you senior in the company doesn't make you right!

Gender - I shouldn't need to, but I guess I have to. Because you are Male/Female/Transgender doesn't make you right!

Education - Because you are from (insert school here) doesn't make you right!

Race - Hopefully this is obvious but because you are (insert pigmentation of skin here) doesn't make you right!

Technical - Because you have Linux at home and think in COBOL doesn't make you right!

Customer - Sometimes the customer is right, sometimes not! I wonder how many projects have failed because "the customer is always right!"

One of the greatest causes of stress in our business is when a difficult project goes bad, one of the worst things you can do in those circumstances is to sit on it. From a project managers point of view having feedback early is extremely valuable. This is one of the hardest things to do in our business.

One of the best things about writing a blog is the feedback, discussion and argument that follows. I've learnt a great deal from this interaction so keep it coming and don't inhibit your inner Fool!.

Lots of Love

Steve

To Be Honest.... - Liz Keogh <-- a really nice presentation on this very subject.

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Comments
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Strikingly open, perhaps profound. I think you underestimate yourself Steve. But my estimation of you just rose a whole heap (not that it was low to begin with, I might add, I hold your opinions on a pillar!). Bravo.

Thoric (CLA, CLED, CTD and LabVIEW Champion)


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Steve,

I think you have earned your place in the community where it no longer matters where/how you learned all the stuff you know. Even Stephen Mercer said it at the CLA Summit in Europe: "Steve is a genius, he gets it, everyone else just run your wires" or something along those lines.

I have gotten myself into trouble a lot of times because of my big mouth, but I have also earned respect of my elders and senior people in a project once they see with their own eyes, that although younger, female, etc I was right after all. And I have also learned that not because I have been right in the past means that I will be right every time... I guess it is called growing.

thanks for another great article!

keep them coming,

Fab

Certified LabVIEW Architect * Certified Professional Instructor * LabVIEW Champion
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Thanks Dr Thomas and Fabulous I honestly didn't write that bit to hedge for compliments I just thought it was a good example of something that inhibits Foolishness. Feel free to compliment me more tho', my poor family will have to put up with my enormous ego for a while.

Technical competence is a great equaliser I find.

Growing allows you to shed some Designer Pride (I have a half written article on this subject)

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I've got permission from Mr Jon Conway to dump the term Genius upon him as a vast amount of the original design ideas come from him. I'd have a T-shirt with it on but people would think I worked for Apple.

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