There was an old engineering semi-joke "If it was difficult to design, it should be difficult to understand".
Looking over some of the comments here, proper and complete documentation is wonderful to your successor. However, it does make the original designer more expendable...
I have had to fix and repair other peoples work on many occasions, and sometimes it has been "interesting" indeed. The result is that I provide very good documentation of my work so that when it needs to be repaired either I, or somebody else, will be able to see how it should work, and understand what has failed. Besides that, really good documentation saves me from having to do many service calls, which is fine with me. The side benefit is that it can make the plant electricians look good, which assures that I get the help I need in the plants, when I need it.
Any good (emphasis on good) assembly language programmer knows to document. Descriptions of subroutines, comments on most lines of code and descriptive labels are a good start And anybody doing real time interrupt driven code always counts the clock cycles (micro/nano seconds)to insure that it will work fast enough.
We tend to solve our own problems at someone else's expense.
This story illustrated what a lot of 'real-time' programmers do; they find they can't do the job here and now (inside the ISR), so when interrupted with fresh data (frame), they store the data in some sort of queue and go back to munching away at the head of the queue, trying to keep up. So far so good, but note that it has actually used more (net) time and memory; and it relies on the interrupt rate slowing sometime to allow the queue to reduce.
To prevent an ugly overflow in the middle of a packet, downstream code will have to monitor the queue and take a higher-level decision to dump some of the data in an orderly fashion.
(This is why your TV set drops frames nowadays, when analog never did).
So you can see that completing your data decoding on-the-fly is A Good Thing, while taking a bit more thought and maybe more horsepower, makes things much easier for downstream code because overflow can never happen.
* disclaimer: many specific cases will not support this approach; they are not the ones I am talking about *
Reminds me of the Story of Mel, a real programmer.
Old stuff should not be forgotten because there are useful lessons in old stuff, where we didn't have two hundred terabytes of RAM, a googleplex of hard drive, and clocks running at X-ray speed.
I think, we can not avoid troubeshooting somebody else's design and I agree that it is tougher than designing our own something new. To be positive we have to start liking trouble-shooting a problem, taking the same as a challenge...and slowly we will find it enjoyable...then we won't be bothered that we are trouble-shooting somebody else's mess.
Much simpler stuff...but when I was about 20 a friend's girlfriend's father owned a nightclub. He refurbished it, and got a fancy light unit that had a few hundred watts of coloured lights above a huge milky perspex ceiling. The electronics was supposed to bright and dim each colour slowly creating mood lighting for the club. Trouble was the spikes generated by the SCRs controlling the bulbs interfered with the circuit and the result was a crazy flickering effect. And the club was reopening in 3 days time..... I got called in and first of all had to draw out the circuit diagram from the boards (there was no documentation whatsoever...no idea where he got it....). It had 3 triangle wave generators and these were (wrongly) syncing themselves to the interference, producing the flickering. By a combination of inductors on the SCR lamp circuits, and regulating the op-amp supplies, I got the thing working pretty well. The guy was really chuffed and gave me a free ticket to the opening. However I was a real nerd in those days and didn't go...I also got a nice wad of cash for it though and that was much appreciated.
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