Now that we are on the topic, I would like to voice a perpetual question
that I have had in my mind (for some years now).
I see most of the people who respond to questions are practicing
experts. Their job/consultancy/business is in the domain of the forum
where we post questions.
(Without being rude and with no other intention) How do you people have
Sometimes I post a question and I have to make a (strong) mental note of
going back and checking-in on the replies. (Besides the fact that I
take time to digest all the replies that come in. I am still digesting
the responses that came in on my Class D Commutation of SCRs post!)
While I don't seem to find the time to check back on replies that are
actually helping me, I always wonder how you experts have the time to
keep on serving these forums.
My guesses are as follows:
a. The experts are so damn expert that what takes me an hour could
take a minute for the expert. Thus, they are able to "serve" and they
can do so in about fraction of the time.
b. The experts are in between two consultancy contracts and they
don't mind tickling their fancy with newbie questions.
c. Some of them are in semi-retirement. (No, no, no, I don't want to
Once again, thank you so much for being the lifeline of these forums,
On Wed, 13 Aug 2014 04:54:06 GMT, email@example.com (Eric
[Snipped by Lyons]
It was with the guys on comp.dsp in mind that
I wrote the following Dedication in my second
This book is dedicated to all the signal processing
engineers who struggle to learn their craft, and
willingly share that knowledge with their engineering
brethren--people of whom the English poet Chaucer would
say, "Gladly would he learn and gladly teach."
I am one who has been in the Systems Engineering game (from humble
Electronics Tech through to becoming a Consultant) for over 40 years
(started in 1969). So I have amassed a great deal of knowledge. I like
helping out and it is good to help the less experienced.
I am operating three different contract threads at present so there is no
in-between for me. Checking Usenet is easy for me as my newsreader is within
the same organisational package as my email. I use Kontact which gives me
the scheduling, task-lists, email, Usenet, RSS feeds and journaling
facilities under one banner. I can scan all over breakfast but I will be
using Kontact at several ponts during the day and so it is always running
for me. It just becomes part of my breakfast routine to read Usenet.
I am also in semi-retirement but so far running my own consultancy is
occupying slightly more hours than my previous full-time position. The only
difference is that what I am doing now is more fun and more rewarding. I
think those who remain passionate about engineering in general will probably
never fully retire.
Glad to help where we can.
Paul E. Bennett IEng MIET.....<email://Paul firstname.lastname@example.org>
On Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:02:48 +0530, Anand P. Paralkar wrote:
<< snip >>
You forgot (d): they do it instead of watching television.
I try to spend no more than a few minutes on each response. Sometimes
someone will be doing something that is interesting, or that will need
some research that pertains to a current project, and then I'll dig a bit
My only problem is that I think that I can give decent answers before
I've had breakfast (which implies that I'm also not yet caffeinated for
the day). This means that I tend to be grumpier and less accurate.
But hey -- all my responses are worth at least what the OP paid, and very
Control system and signal processing consulting
Partly. Once you've fallen into a pothole, you remember it next time.
There's a lot of breadth to electronics, but not so much depth--each
individual bit is usually pretty simple when you've seen it before. It
isn't like doing philosophy, say, or even nontrivial computer
programming, where you have to keep 50 things in your head at once.
Nope. Doesn't happen too often round my shop.
Nope again. Although you're correct that there are a lot of retired
folks on SED, as there will be on Facebook in 30 years for the same
reason. I expect to be fully employed for the next 15 years or so, and
maybe a bit longer than that.
I mostly work by myself, so SED is sort of a virtual watercooler and
white board. The two things I miss about Corporate America, as I said a
day or two ago, are (1) colleagues, and (2) vacations. I need a bit of
goofing-off time in the average day, and most other folks do, too.
I generally manage to stay out of the flame wars, except when one goes
on too long and I start teasing the parties involved. That sometimes
helps people redirect the energy. I'm actually pretty fond of some of
the folks who post here, and have met a few of them in person, and
collaborated with one or two.
It also turns out that posting on SED is a decent search engine
optimization strategy for consultants. Stuff that gets posted here
winds up high in the search engine results, along of course with the
name of the person who posted it. (I discovered this after having been
a regular for some years.) Thus even my goofing-off time is
productive, you see. Devilish clever, these consultants. ;)
On 8/12/2014 9:32 PM, Anand P. Paralkar wrote:
----------------------------------------------------^^^ or, "were".
Don't discount retirees, etc.
For folks in their own business, you have control over your own time.
No PHB to "force" a 9-5 on you. E.g., I can work as little or as
much as I want on any given day, EVERY day. I'm answerable to myself
In the US, I've seen figures claiming as much as 2 hrs per day is
"wasted" at the typical job -- answering email, surfing the web,
chatting on the phone, chatting by the water cooler, etc. (all
"personal" tasks unrelated to work)
[I know this seems excessive! But, every time I've looked into it,
the figure remains uncontested! :< ]
For that hypothetical worker, this represents "distraction time";
their desire to escape what they SHOULD be doing. How does that
differ from an engineer wanting to distract himself with something
engineering-related... yet NOT (necessarily) germane to his "current
Or, they may have already *done* what you are asking -- or, something
close enough that they can easily offer guidance/opinion.
Even on "down" time, you're not sitting around twiddling your thumbs!
Preparing proposals, maintaining/purchasing equipment/software,
"cleaning up" after previous project(s), investigating other fields
of interest/technologies, etc.
But, again, your time is your own. Perhaps reading/posting something
here helps you prepare that proposal. Or, gives you an idea as to
a new tool/equipment investment. Or, allows you to peek into other
folks' past experiences to glean a bit of info about a new technology
that you want to explore, etc.
Or *real* retirement! :> But, that doesn't mean they can't still
be spending as many weekly hours applying their skills to other
projects -- for pay, investment or otherwise!
One thing I've been surprised to learn (though find it "obvious" in
hindsight!) is how long it takes to disengage yourself from your
"formal" career as you retire from a consultancy. For a 9-to-5,
you just *retire* -- on a particular day and at a particular time.
The "business" persists without you. The *business* has obligations
to its customers, shareholders, etc. -- those obligations don't
translate to being *your* obligations!
Not so in a consultancy, etc. Its a lot harder to "disentangle"
yourself from clients and customers that have been *your* clients
and customers -- without feeling like you are leaving them with a
"problem" (finding a replacement for your services). The 9-to-5
scenario skips over that! "It's not my problem..."
In my current job i am an internal consultant (a subject matter expert)
for a lot of the electronic things done at my current employer. This
gives me an obvious path to exploit when i retire and go consulting
On 8/13/2014 8:36 PM, josephkk wrote:
I think for folks with narrow application domains or "niche" skillsets,
there isn't as much appeal, here. Chances are, they may already know
a good deal of what needs to be known in that narrow field.
OTOH, if you (like me) are "all over the place" withthe variety of
problems you are called on to (or interested in!) address, then the
variety, here, is an asset. Particularly if you are good at abstract
thought -- being able to *imagine* how a particular technology can
be exploited in a different manner to address a problem in which you
have an interest. (sadly, many people seem incapable of this level
of abstract thought: "Why do you want to do that?" being their
response to your queries)
For me, retirement is choosing my *own* projects/problems to solve;
not waiting for someone to be willing to pay me to solve one of
*theirs* (in which I may/maynot have an interest). I.e., taking
the skills others have *paid* me to learn/refine and appying those
to problems that *I* find interesting!
I honestly can't understand a mindset that sticks to one skillset,
application domain, etc. for an entire career. To me, it would be
like "digging ditches" -- regardless of the pay level and/or proficiency
attained, it's just "the same thing, over and over" ("Oooo! The soil
here has a high concentration of loam -- instead of clay!" <shrug>)
How many power supplies do you design before you say, "Um, I'm pretty
sure I've got this skill 'down'..." and ache to move onto something
new? How many different sort() routines? User interfaces? Math
Similarly, there's a point at which it gets harder and harder to find
folks who are willing to pay you to learn something "new" (to you).
At that point, it's inevitable that you become a "ditch-digger" (though
you now have a larger variety of "ditches" to choose between).
So, if you want continued variety and challenge, you have to resort
to your own imagination: "Gee, wouldn't it be great if...".
Of course, deciding when you can "afford" to do that is a matter of
personal comfort: how well you've saved/invested, how comfortable
you are in your assessment of your own future need$, life expectancy,
number and types of folks who "depend" on you and the extent of your
commitment to them, physical/mental condition and prognosis, etc.
On the flip side, how much capacity to undertake new ideas and concepts
do you expect to have as you get older? Given that you don't *already*
have something under your belt, are you confident that you'll have the
mental and physical skills to "pick it up" when you're 60? 65? 70?
What recourse will you have if the above proves NOT to be the case?
(blindness, tremor, stroke, fatigue, respiratory problems, memory,
hearing, dexterity, strength, etc.)
[Dunno about you, but I find the things that I want to learn get more
taxing -- perhaps because they *are* more complex! -- to pick up as
I get older! E.g., the idea of learning another foreign language at
my age would be far too frustrating! It's a challenge for me just to
resolve the subtle differences among the sounds of English speech in
order to understand fine differences in pronunciation rules at my
current "state of decay"^H^H^H age! :> ]
(sigh) Off to deliver some goodies...
Counterexample, probably apocryphal, but who cares...
A newly minted maths graduate got a job assembling
vacuum cleaners. After a few months they realised he
was capable of more, and repeatedly gently tried to
get him to move into management etc. Eventually they
asked him why not.
He replied that he deliberately got a job that he
could learn in 30mins and thereafter do mindlessly.
Why? Because while he was ostensibly assembling
vacuum cleaners, actually he was indulging in his
passion: playing games of chess.
I've always admired someone that can work out what's
/really/ important to them, and then find a way to
Exactly! I'm not advocating folks follow *my* approach to
life, career, etc. Rather, indicating what I, early on,
realized was "really important to me" and how I went about
getting that out of my life, career, etc.
E.g., I have stubbornly resisted management roles beyond
"project management". And, even there, have limited my
"touch" to ensuring everyone on the team has what they
need to do their job (*my* view of a manager's true role!)
instead of "playing policeman".
I've a friend who was essentially "set for life" in his
20's. He's moved on -- but to more expensive versions of
what he was doing "back then". From my perspective, a
"waste of talent" -- as he was immensely capable of doing
anything he set his mind to! *But*, he is apparently happy
(and very $ucce$$ful!) doing it.
[*I* would rather trade potential $$ for the ability to reclaim
*my* time on the planet]
So, what "works" for one may not for another.
On Thu, 14 Aug 2014 18:36:47 +0100, Tom Gardner wrote:
Well, yes. I had a coworker once who's professed ambition was to recharge
his unemployment and then start gently pissing off the boss until he was
laid off (the boss never fired anyone -- he laid them off, and then hired
a replacement. Anyone who's employed people knows how kosher that is).
Then when his unemployment ran out, he'd apply for work again.
A friend "periodically" sent his wife back to work... just long
enough to get through the probationary period. Wages were immaterial.
What he wanted was access to the health insurance policy (through
COBRA -- as her time working wouldn't cover the costs of day-care
for the kids). Then, convert to COBRA for 102% and 18months later
repeat the process.
I knew a plumber like that once. He was good enough at his job that
finding work was no problem but every time a contract completed he'd
always wait until UI ran out to go back to work. He "scheduled" it so
he was off summers.
However, in the case of your coworker, it's surprising he could find a
job at all. Word gets out and even if they don't say anything (good
reasons not to), people with such a poor record of employment tend to
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