Arduino Forum

Community => Bar Sport => Topic started by: graynomad on Mar 07, 2013, 03:22 am

Title: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: graynomad on Mar 07, 2013, 03:22 am
There was an article in the Ganssle newsletter a while back about the increasing trend towards engineers becoming specialists in one area as opposed to generalists.

I'm a self-confessed generalist, ie Jack of all trades and master of none and I usually do all the design work from concept through schematic and PCB design to writing the embedded code and even the Windows GUI if required. Plus I do plumbing, welding, mechanics, house design etc etc.

I will never be an expert in say the intricacies of RTOS design or be good enough to weld on a gas pipeline but that's the way I like it, so when the Ganssle newsletter published this quote (Apparently from one of Robert Heinlein's books) I had to share.

Quote
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."


I like to think I can (or could if required) do all the above, with the exception of changing diapers.

What are people here, generalists or specialists?

______
Rob
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: retrolefty on Mar 07, 2013, 03:48 am
Quote
die gallantly


That's a Hollywood mime. What does that mean exactly for all the non combat forms of deaths, that will happen to probably 99.99+ % of us.

That aside I did read a lot of Robert Heinlein books as a youth. I just never tried to live my life by any book prescription.

Lefty

Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: graynomad on Mar 07, 2013, 03:56 am
Yes I wasn't too keen on that one, and as you say what about us non-heroes. Personally I think something like dealing with cancer for 2 years with a brave face takes as much fortitude as most of the classic "brave" acts. Probably more actually because there's not the heat of the moment and the adrenalin to pump you up, you just have to deal with it.

Fortunately I'm well out of my depth with such a discussion as I've not had to deal with either scenario.

______
Rob
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Jack Christensen on Mar 07, 2013, 04:00 am
Generalist through and through. I've always loved that quotation, which is "from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long" in Heinlein's Time Enough For Love. In fact I was just thinking about it the other day, and wondering if I could get or make a copy of it to hang on my office wall. Good book, I should read it again, it's been a long time.
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: alfiesty on Mar 07, 2013, 04:09 am
I always liked the definition I was given by my high school calculus teacher!

A specialist learns more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. A generalist learns less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything.

Jim
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Boffin1 on Mar 07, 2013, 05:46 am
Wonderful quotes both,

  I am definately a generalist,

I have 2 big projects on the go in the office ( which the wife calls the lounge )

and one being assembled in the laboratory  (  which the wife calls her sewing room ),

I have the washing machine in bits in the kitchen, trying to get the main bearing out , working through a small hole in the back cover  (  I did assist in the delivery of my daughter 40 years ago, and it all comes back, like riding a bike )

I have the ignition switch hanging from the dashboard of the car in the garage.

I have the scribblings of my new invention ( a new type of fly trap ) in the drawing room ( which the wife calls the bathroom )

Its 5 am and I am catching up on Bar Sport with a cup of coffee  (  the only non decaffed one for the day  - hmm - I think that is a double negative )  before getting stuck in.

As for the die gallantly quote,  I hope I am never in a situation where I have to dive in front of a train to throw a toddler out of harms way, for instance.

Who knows how natures fight-or-flight toggle would behave without having been there ?

Re the cancer , very true, we lost a very gallant sister to cancer last year..
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: graynomad on Mar 07, 2013, 06:07 am
:), to all except your sister of course.

______
Rob
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: rockwallaby on Mar 07, 2013, 07:42 am
In my skull, where there is much of nothing, except for a little bit of 'Dark Matter' at its central core, a to-do come wish list wafts from side to side, right behind my eyeballs, where I can see and read it.

From time to time the list gets sucked into that central dark matter where it gets acquainted for a while with the up tight specialist left brain, before not long after, being torn away by the lazy right brain half. They each fight like hell to be top dog in wanting the list to be their own.

In the meantime with that commotion in the background, I myself sit in the middle, or should I say, on the outside.
I observe and then I try to do the best I can.

Mostly I'm buggered each time, as everything needs to be so damn perfect that not much gets done, and in the end and what does get done is so far from left brain perfectionism. I try to console myself that what I do get done is at least an achievement, a step toward my goals and values in life.

Like many of you, I also favour;


As a child, my parents were horrified each time I would pull apart a new toy!
The toy was more fun apart than whole for me. I wanted to explore how it worked.
Putting it back together was never a problem.
_____
Paul
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Boffin1 on Mar 07, 2013, 08:12 am
Way to go Paul !   :-)
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: graynomad on Mar 07, 2013, 02:43 pm
My but you have a busy head Paul, mine's largely vacant.

I too have a problem with perfection, meaning that I like everything to be perfect in a design so the end result is (for personal work at least) that I almost never finish anything because I can always make it better, or maybe next week there'll be this great chip that makes the design just right.

Contract work is different, there's a deadline and the job just gets done by then...well sometimes.

Quote
Putting it back together was never a problem.

Same here, the fun part was gone at that point so I never bothered and moved on.

_____
Rob
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: JimboZA on Mar 07, 2013, 02:47 pm
Generally I'm a specialist
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: rockwallaby on Mar 07, 2013, 02:55 pm
Quote
Rob wrote:
My but you have a busy head Paul, mine's largely vacant


Might sound like it's busy, yes it is sometimes, but largely it's background noise that I just ignore.
Living in the bush is nice and peaceful, I guess you like that too Rob eh?
On a warm summers eve I can stare at the stars and planets and other strange objects out there and then realise, well, not much at all, how vacant is that  :P

Thanks for your nice words Boffin, looks like a large glass of beer you are holding, or is that Cognac?

Isn't the bar here is a nice place to hang out at the moment  :D

_____
Paul
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Boffin1 on Mar 07, 2013, 03:16 pm
That glass Paul,  is a Hartenberg white wine from Stellenbosch just up the road from here.

I have switched to red a year or so back, I must change the picture, but it reminds of a lovely afternoon under the trees with a picnic....

Dammit, back to the washing machine and LED displays, it was nice to dream for a second ...................
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Jack Christensen on Mar 07, 2013, 03:43 pm

Contract work is different, there's a deadline and the job just gets done by then...well sometimes.


"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
-- Douglas Adams
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: JimboZA on Mar 07, 2013, 03:47 pm
Quote
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."


Not to mention the Splat as they smash into the wall behind
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: 3dprinter on Mar 07, 2013, 10:47 pm
My dear friends - Generalist like the rest of you. Except Arduino where I strive to be .... well, maybe I'll stick to generalist ;)

But a techno-generalist. I cant write a sonnet, play improvised music or be a politician.

Know your limits. No need to push them, but improve inside of them (assuming they're far enough apart ;) )

(ohh, that was way to much philosophy for this eveing. Time to go to bd)
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: westfw on Mar 09, 2013, 02:49 am
I seem to be a generalist in such a small area that people think I'm a specialist.
For instance, I really enjoy comparing different microcontrollers.  Which qualifies me to ... um... participate in many heated online discussions, or to be a troll...
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: graynomad on Mar 09, 2013, 03:55 am
Quote
I seem to be a generalist in such a small area that people think I'm a specialist.

:)

______
Rob
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Osgeld on Mar 10, 2013, 08:51 am
generalist, though I am not an engineer

the engineers at my work do have their specialist qualifications and trades, but take on generalist attitudes, they have to we are a small company. We cant afford to stock specialist in every possible situation, and frankly from what I have seen I am not too impressed by career specialist  that greatly steps outside their favorite field.

yea they can solve a specific problem, but only in an ivory tower situation which is rarely useful in the real world other than a nudge in the correct direction.
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Osgeld on Mar 10, 2013, 08:54 am

Know your limits. No need to push them


the only way I can learn is to push or be pushed beyond my limits. you can drill it in my head all day and not make a dent, toss me in the deep end and I finally get it

guess I am thick headed
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Boffin1 on Mar 11, 2013, 12:26 pm
This weekend I specialised in washing machine repairs on Saturday ( replacing a broken spider inside the drum )  then specialised in finishing off the debugging of my current scoreboards that are going out today, then I specialised in finding why the car starter doesn't always work ( especially when the  wifes using it ! )
Now I must specialise in sourcing the components for my next projects.

I think will stick to being a generalist, it seems easier.
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: rockwallaby on Mar 11, 2013, 02:18 pm
Sounds good Boffin,

This weekend I specialised in partaking in the making of good food to share and enjoy with a couple of good friends with many bottles of, hic, slurpy juice with them there bubbles, hic, in it while talking all things solar and batteries and other deep and meaningful things about life. Damn, why is this bottle empty again, hic  :smiley-red:

Then woke up to a slow morning, generally just wondering where I had left my brains.
While pondering over that, I pulled out a heap of special wires from my main electrical cabinet as I am in the middle of redesigning my small microhydro system after many faithful reliable years of service. Fortunately there were no mishaps, all special blue smoke remains in components. I continued to then clean and check the backup generator, after which I rolled out the quad and dusted it off and used a very special technique I use a certain manual device to put escaped air back into the slightly deflated front tyres as I needed to venture up to my neighbour some 500 metres up the bush track I live on.

Arrive at my friendly neighbour and the afternoon saw me again performing special work. Generally sweating like a wild pig on a hot late summer's day, lifting, moving 24 heavy 2 Volt 600 Amp/hr batteries from an awkward location. Almost tasting and feeling the battery acid mixed with dripping sweat from my clothes I knew what I was waring would possibly not see the end of day, instead, turning a pale brown and falling as autumn leaves discard the tree. I proceed, checking and reconnecting and re-checking all the cabling and connectors, ready for the big breaker switch to be re-united. Power on, nothing went bang, no smoklets rings appearing, we grin, a fine job done. So we, err, again without so much as a thought, we went out to celebrated with, hic, more of that err, special bubbly stuff, damn that's a fine bottle, or was, hic.

The morning light encouraged me out of my deep slumber. Slowly as I rolled my eyes around and forward, my mind became aware of the outside world once more and proving to myself I was able to know front from back of a motorbike, I took to the road with my riding mate, my neighbour, to experience some eye rolling, sphincter puckering riding through a few twisties around my neck of the woods. Arriving at another friends place, where a lunch of omelet with garden picked greens followed by freshly baked home made cake was served before working out how to make a welding repair to an old cast iron bed and then to look at fixing her all singing all dancing electronic exercise bike, so she could exercise while watching tv. As thanks, she winked and whispered something that sounded strangely like, she thought the sun shone out, well, we all know where. With another good deed done, we made the general enquiry if she had any of that good tasting stuff with, err, stuff with bubbles. Jokingly, I guessed not, we needed to be responsible as we were riding and had the same fun filled road to take to get back home, safely.

Safely home I mixed four cups of flour a cup of spelt flour, two tablespoons of yeast, added water, mixing and kneading and hey presto, fresh bread from the oven. Enjoyed with salad and red wine watching the setting of the sun through the trees in the Australian bush.

I wonder what tomorrow will hold?

____
Paul
Title: Re: Are you a generalist or specialist?
Post by: Boffin1 on Mar 11, 2013, 02:35 pm
I couldnt work for anyone again, even if I was younger,  and miss all the freedom of being self unemployed.