On Good Questions

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 stay unemployed.
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Perhaps I didn't emphasize things enough -- this was all with JUST ONE BOSS.
Mr. Employee could wrap Mr. Boss around his finger, whether it to get his old job back, or to get laid off.
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Tim Wescott
Any employer who hires this individual twice is nuts. Probably had pictures of the boss and mistress.
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Oh, Mr. boss is in the clear then -- it was way more than twice.
And no, it wasn't goat pictures.
(You have to know both of them. I couldn't stand working there, but after I'd been away for a few years Mr. Boss and I became friends.)
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Not sure if i am narrow or not. I am certainly uneven over the domain of electrical engineering. Some licks in arc flash, medium voltage switchgear, fiber optics, cellular data communication, CCTV, computer programming and other areas.
That is more like me. I tend to get drug in every time the going gets rough. Kind of a specializing generalist (here learn this an a few days though the person you are supposed to help had months).
I am expecting to take a similar route. I can do the same thing for some years running but it gets boring. I want to keep learning. This is a good time for it as well.
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Hi Joseph,
I know people who have done THE SAME THING for 30+ years. Each new version teaches them "nothing" -- but, it is "safe" and "nonthreatening". I've been known to tell clients/employers who would make comments like: "Maybe we'll do that in the NEXT version" that "Well, I won't be here for that..."
(I don't learn anywhere near as much doing something AGAIN as I do The First Time)
Often, people can't see outside their own past experiences. So, they instinctively want to repeat a previous design/approach to a problem -- without thinking if there might be a better/different way to approach it IN THIS SITUATION.
For example, pharmaceuticals are controlled by their dosages -- i.e., the weights of their active ingredients. "100mg Tylenol3", "10mg Valium", etc. You obviously don't want a 120mg tablet dispensed as if a 100mg tablet!
But, weighing individual tablets is virtually impossible. They are produced at speeds of ~100 per second. Heck, you couldn't even weigh a batch of 100 in the time the NEXT 100 were produced!
So, you don't look at "weight". Instead, you look at something RELATED to weight... something that you can measure at ~100Hz!
Most tablets are produced on rotary tablet presses. A fixed geometry "die" ("mold") is filled with "granulation" ("tablet in powdered form") and then compressed (up to 10tons) to give the tablet its cohesive, solid form. The die has fixed outer dimensions and a variable (servo controlled) *depth*. Increase the depth, and there is more volume available *in* the die for the granulation --> increased weight!
In one scheme, the cavity is compressed to a fixed final dimension (essentially, the final dimensions of the tablet, more or less). If you watch the pressure exerted on the tablet as it is compressed to that size, you can correlate this with an actual mass/weight! If the force is too high, that particular tablet is too heavy; too low and it is too light. In each case, you can choose to discard *that* tablet in real time.
In another scheme (e.g., patent issues!), the force exerted on the powder is held constant and the dimensions are allowed to vary (small amounts). If the measured dimensions of a tablet AT THE TIME OF COMPRESSION are greater than expected, it's too heavy; similarly, too small indicates too light!
In each case, you can use observations to control the depth of the cavity so that FUTURE tablets trend to the correct target weight (as indicated by size or force).
Someone focusing on weight will invest lots of effort trying to come up with a scale that operates (and settles) in < 10ms. A foolhardy goal! You need people who are able to step back and look at other disciplines to see more realistic solutions in a given set of circumstances.
It's great because YOU set the goals, YOU set the criteria, YOU set the timeframe, etc. YOU drive the process -- wherever you want it to go! Instead of a boss/client/marketdroid/beancounter telling you what/how to design!
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Don Y
Half a lifetime ago I was backpacking around Europe and ended up living in a cave (literally, albeit with all mod cons) at Oia in Santorini looking down and across The caldera. Not buying such a place was probably the biggest missed financial opportunity in my life, but I digress.
The owner was away: he spent six months working his 'nads off in Saudi during the winter, and six months recuperating in that cave.
The reasons I didn't do something similar was that I enjoyed my work more, and I have an aversion to working anywhere where you need an exit visa.
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Tom Gardner
Whenever/wherever I've been an interviewer it has been a priority to weed out people with "10 years experience" that is really "10*1 years experience".
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Tom Gardner
Hi Tom,
I meet people with all sorts of "track histories". You can find someone who's been stuck in a really lengthy project for a LONG TIME; or, someone who has been dealing with little "bite sized" projects.
I like to let them describe something they are comfortable/proud of -- in enough detail taht I have a basic idea of what was involved. Then, ask them what they did "wrong"... what they would do *differently* if they started the same project, NOW.
If technology has changed in the intervening time (recall, I let *them* pick the project to describe), then they might offer up something like, "instead of a bunch if discrete TTL, I would implement the entire machine in a fast MCU (or FPGA or full custom or...)". If it was something coded in language X, they might offer up doing it in a different language and/or programming paradigm.
The point is to see what they have *learned* -- if they have developed the skills necessary to criticize their past efforts... or, if they just dismiss them and move on once they are "done".
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Don Y
I once became fairly good friends with a guy who became my boss. We were out to diner one night and his wife asked how he was to work for. I said he was a great guy but a terrible manager. She laughed and said that she suspected as much. Neither of us wanted me in that department, basically because I was working for his manager (who was my previous manager) and always went around him. If there is something keeping me from doing my job, it is my job to go around it, even if it is my boss. ;-)
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