Sometime in the last century, I worked for a hot new start-up that was all set to launch its first product at a shindig in a fancy hotel in New York City, along with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, and champagne and jumbo shrimp for all the press and VIPs in attendance.
We had hired top-flight industrial designers, so the enclosure for the hardware looked very cool, but unfortunately, the actual electronics to go inside the box wasn’t ready by show time. The front panel was there, with a little alphanumeric LED status display, so I wired up a battery to the LEDs so that the box appeared to be on, even though it couldn’t actually do anything.
The press and VIPs sat through the executive speeches and PowerPoint slides, and then came and peered at the box, suitably impressed by the whiz-bang technology supposedly inside. Right then, all the power went out in the room. The only thing you could see in the gloom was my battery-powered LED display.
The engineers in the room were horrified – it was obvious now that the box wasn’t even plugged into the AC supply.
We were all set to explain about the imaginary invisible battery backup, but luckily that wasn’t necessary: None of the press or VIPs had noticed.
Years ago I was responsible for all of the demo equipment in a tradeshow booth. Over night, we kept all of the computers and projectors in locked cabinets in the booth On one particular morning I discovered with horror that I did not have my key to unlock the cabinets and get all of the demos set up.
I sent someone to go try and find a key as I paced back and forth. At about 15 minutes after the show opened, I grabbed a screwdriver and was just starting to pry open the cabinet doors, mangling them in the process, when our CEO walked. up.
Thinking I was dead meat, I stood up and in the calmest voice I could muster, said "good morning." He smiled, said everything looked great and left. He didn't notice that none of the demo equipment was running.
This reminds me of military equipment and the one button that turned on all the lights. After explaining to Captains, Generals and Congressman what your equipment actually did the biggest response always came from pressing the "Panel Check" button and all the lights turned on - that is what was impressive to most guests....form over function - very few questions, understanding or interest - a bit depressing.
Yep, and my tongue was firmly in my cheek - you just can't see it on my small photo.....
Lets just say that non-engineers, generally, seem to have a higher proportion of idiots. When you get into marketing and bean-counting the proportion seems to get pretty high.
And talking of dividing the world into types:
There are 10 kinds of people in the world - those who know binary and those who don't......
Well David, I didn't mean for it to sound quite so harsh as to divide into two groups. Granted there are many idiots in this world, but also many non-idiots are non-engineers. Let's just say I've experienced all four types.
What they're interested in is the free champagne, the free jumbo shrimp, and "Can I make a quick buck off this?" with no clue or interest in what the new product is supposed to do. This is the difference between engineers and idiots.
Sheetal is certainly correct about the VIPs and others not being interested in "mere details", which often include product functioning and durability. Will the product outlive the 30 day warranty can wind up being quite a challenge sometimes.