29 September 2011

Book 1 Chapter 13

Chapter 13, "Should Ohm's Law be repealed?"

Another great Jim Williams polemic (like Chapter 4).

This chapter begins with the story of Dr. Stearn, Jim's childhood neighbor who shared his electronics hobby with Jim and who owned a Tektronix 535 oscilloscope ("a bumpless combination of interdisciplinary technology, inspired design, attention to detail, aesthetics, and usability"). There is some great advice here, via Dr. Stearn, such as, "Use any tool that will help move your thinking along, know how these tools work, and keep their limitations in mind when you use them." Clearly, Jim took this advice to heart (as evidenced by his numerous appendices on scopes, probes, and measurement techniques).

"One daughter, my age, had cute freckles and long, chestnut hair. Once, she even baked me chocolate chip cookies and presented them in a blue box with a ribbon. They were good. I can't be sure, but I think I missed a cue. A born engineer."

The polemic starts when Jim starts discussing CAD systems, and the pie-in-the-sky promises thereof. It seems incredible that an (unnamed) magazine editor actually wrote, without irony, that "Today's mainstream designers, whether they're designing a complex board-level product or an IC, don't need to fuss with electronics." Today's mainstream chefs, whether they're cooking a wedding banquet or a meal at home, don't need to fuss with food.

Finally, note Figure 13-2:

That does not look like the good life to me. That looks like Hell.

Best quote: "Mother Nature loves throwing a surprise party. Technologically driven arrogance is a dangerous brew, as any Titanic passenger will assure you."


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