Tag Archives: solution space

Episode 95 — Details

detailsBrian, Carmen and Jeff discuss the role of details in engineering projects, and how one goes about evaluating, managing, sharing, and documenting critical minutia.

  • In the introduction, Jeff misses the detail that this podcast is published in November, not October.
  • Carmen doesn’t mind sweating the details, but reviewing documentation for typographical errors is not his favorite task.
  • It is often said that “the devil is in the details.”
  • We continue to look for guest and topic suggestions from our listeners, so feel free to send us a note with your ideas.
  • A previous guest, James Trevelyan, has written about the value of engineers, and how uncertainty reduction is an important contribution of the engineering profession.
  • Uncertainty is frequently treated as a statistical issue.
  • Brian relates a recent situation in which he burned through many hours trying to uncover a programming detail buried in the documentation.
  • Electronic circuits can behave badly in “high EMI” environments, where EMI stands for “electromagnetic interference.”
  • Jeff justifies his “pi multiplier” concept (see this podcast’s first episode) with the “cone of uncertainty” used by software developers.
  • It’s Brian’s opinion that engineers often fail to utilize the formal methods found in other professions when managing a multitude of critical details.
  • Jeff claims that engineering standards ease the burden of dealing with frequently encountered details.
  • Of course, as Carmen observes, the problem sometimes lies in choosing the “right” standard.
  • Searching a large solution space for potential design details can be a frustratingly slow process, says Jeff.
  • Brian always tries to have a backup plan, so he is not “checkmated” by a single detail.
  • The amount of documentation appropriate for each detail seems related to the detail’s expected and potential costs.
  • Creating a documentation hierarchy can provide needed information without overwhelming customers, notes Carmen.
  • Humans quickly become inured to a surplus of details (or warnings).
  • Brian has found modularization (it’s really a word!) to be a good means for keeping details from interfering with one another during the development process.
  • Software packages are available for companies wishing to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP).
  • Git has become very popular as a version control system.
  • Hardware changes can be tracked in Git using visual diffs.

Thanks to Frédéric Bisson for the photo titled “Détail de la machine à vapeur Merlin.” Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.