@Betajet: So that was a gift my still-living non-engineer art-historian father gave me long ago, along with many others including an appreciation for aesthetics, a love of movies, and a sense of humor.
Let's not forget your legendary good looks :-)
These are all vital necessities as far as I'm concerned, and none can be assigned a monetary value.
Wow!! I'd already heard about Max's dad being a dancer before WWII, but the whole story is much more impressive than I though. Now we can understand a little better the personality of "ours truly": half an engineer + half an artist ;-)
By the way... when is Father's Day in the USA? In Spain we celebrate this day on 19th March.
My Dad is still with us, but unfortunately we don't expect him to see another Christmas. 92 years old and deteriorating fast. He was a radio operator on the RCAF Halifax bombers during WW2.
He wrote his memoirs a few years ago (I had never known my Dad was an unsung writer). One of the war stories he finally revealed was an incident during his flight training. He used to get airsick, so to avoid washing out he would go into the restroom a few minutes before flight time and make himself vomit.
One day his name was called for the next flight, one of his buddies replied "Ed's in the can." So they called the next man on the list. My Dad came out and his buddy said "You were supposed to be on that flight." Then the plane took off, lost a motor, and plummeted into the ground. That's why my Dad titled his memoirs "Living on Borrowed Time."
He used to bring home one-shot telemetry units from the air drogues used for training, full of neat parts and miniature vacuum tubes soldered onto phenolic PCBs (FR4 was unheard of back then). I took them apart, and Dad built a workbench out of plywood for me - child sized, two towers on each side supporting a platform. The towers were full of compartmentalized drawers for storing resistors, capacitors, inductors.
My dad was, like Max's, not at all technically inclined. But I also got so much from him. He did encourage my obsession with electronics - he worked at Burroughs Machines and would bring me old PCBs and other bits that the techies gave him, that got me started off. He paid for me to attend an evening electronics class while I was still at school - I got an electronics certificate before I did my final school exams. He was a keen writer and made sure I had a good command of English, something for which I am eternally grateful. He wrote a story called "Registration Blues" about getting me and my two sisters' births registered - for mine he could not remember my mother's birthday and for my middle sister she put his profession as certified accountant (instead of chartered accountant) for which he never forgave her. They both went to register my younger sister! I hope my mom still has a copy of the book it was published in.... But most of all he gave me a sense of values - something that seems lacking in so many of the kids of today. My dad died in 1986, of a brain tumour. I still miss him heaps.
Max - what happend to your uncle Pug after the war??
"In the high and far-off times", I had a gig as an assistant professor at a large university. One day a student asked me an interesting question: "How did you learn to debug things?"
I hadn't really given this much thought before, but after thinking a bit it dawned on me that if was probably because of all the detective novels I had read as a teenager. In particular, the policier or "police procedural" is a great model for debugging: an anomaly (a crime) has occurred. First, you try to reproduce the bug ("reënact the crime"). Then you go about interviewing all the possible witnesses (i.e., check the values of signals and/or variables) and you must always assume that they may be lying to you. Don't fall in love with a solution too quickly -- the problem (or perpetrator) could be something (or someone) you've never heard of -- the "J.P. McGillicuddy" of The Naked City (1948). Above all, debugging needs to be a slow, methodical process. If you try to hurry it, you'll miss something important.
It was Dad who introduced me to detective novels: tough private detectives created by Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Dashiel Hammett, as well as policiers starring Maigret. We both discovered Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö when we saw The Laughing Policeman (1973): they wrote a series of what are IMO the best police procedurals ever. They are slow and methodical, lots of details, lots of dead ends, but they sure get you into the right mind-set for debugging.
So that was a gift my still-living non-engineer art-historian father gave me long ago, along with many others including an appreciation for aesthetics, a love of movies, and a sense of humor. These are all vital necessities as far as I'm concerned, and none can be assigned a monetary value.
Ahh, my Dad. He had a huge influence on me, for sure! He dropped out of high school and joined the Army during the Korean war and sustained some non-combat injuries. He was the kind of guy who was always tinkering or building something. Of course, I loved to help him and he let me do a lot of things with power tools; pretty thrilling for a small boy!
He would also bring gizmos home from the paper plant where he worked (and retired from). Most of these things were discarded/scrap industrial control panels and such - I had a LOT of fun tearing those things apart!
He lived to 72 and has been wandering the Cosmos for the past 20 years - I do miss his home-spun wisdom every day!
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
Brought to you by