Re: H/W v S/W difficulty

Subject: Re: H/W v S/W difficulty
From: Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 1994 13:39:07 EST

Jan Boomsliter said:

>It never made sense to me that hardware writers were put on a pedastal
>(by software writers, and others, in hardware or hardware-and-software

WOW! Do I wish I had sent a resume to -your- company this time last year.

I was job hunting in the metro Boston area, thus most of the opportunities
were in software documentation. I continued to run into an attitude of
"Oh, you wrote (shudder) hardware documentation. Well, I suppose we can have
the office disinfected after you're done with the interview."

>I think hardware is a piece of cake; you can get your hands on it.

Not when your hardware is flying night-strike missions over Baghdad, a
problem I faced in January and February 1991. (Actual conversation summary:
"Rick, we need you to revise fan blade erosion limits due to the sand
problems on the engine." "Sure boss, show me a fan blade." "I can't, it's

In another case, I was required to complete an aircraft structural repair
manual a full nine months before the first aircraft rolled out the hangar
door. There simply was -no- hardware to look at.

Jan's statement -could- be turned around: "I think software is a piece of
cake, I've got a computer at my desk and it runs the software." Is this
a fair statement?

>Understanding software requires more than general knowledge.

In order to write documentation for transport aircraft, I had to become
knowledgable in structures, corrosion control, non-destructive inspection
methods, electronics, aerodynamics, hydraulics, and sheet-metal work. In the
morning, I might be writing about an engine start procedure, in the afternoon
I might be tracing through a multi-sheet wiring diagram in order to figure out
what happens when a flight computer receives a specific input. When I walked
into that job, my knowledge of aerospace was far above "general knowledge,"
I quickly learned that it wasn't even close to what I had to master in order
to do my job.

(Honest, Jan? A -pedastal-? Woof. Does that mean you'll buy lunch?)

Rick Lippincott
Eaton Semiconductor
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com

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