Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This one's too good to let pass. Just sums up everything Dilbert says except in more words. Since I ain't a qualified engineer, not all these qualities apply to me. I have immunity whenever I screw up. And I just use the 'Rules of the Lab' liberally to cover up. Of course, the Titanic wasn't the engineer's fault. It was human EGO all the way to the bottom.
Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social
"Normal" people expect to accomplish several
unrealistic things from social interaction:
*Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
*Important social contacts
*A feeling of connectedness with other humans
In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
*Get it over with as soon as possible.
*Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
*Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.
FASCINATION WITH GADGETS
To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories:
(1)things that need to be fixed, and (2)things that will
need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them.
Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily
available, they will create their own problems. Normal people don't
understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke, don't
fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have
enough features yet.
No engineer looks at a television remote control without
wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun. No engineer
can take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon coating
would make showering unnecessary. To the engineer, the world is a
toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.
FASHION AND APPEARANCE
Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming
the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied.
If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia
or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective
of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.
LOVE OF "STAR TREK"
Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television
shows and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the
starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having
sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of
an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having
sex without the participation of other life forms.
DATING AND SOCIAL LIFE
Dating is never easy for engineers. A normal person will
employ various indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false
impression of attractiveness. Engineers are incapable of placing
appearance above function.
Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They are
widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable,
employed, honest, and handy around the house. While it's true that
many normal people would prefer not to date an engineer, most normal
people harbor an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing
engineer-like children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing
Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness
later than normal men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their
mid thirties to late forties. Just look at these examples of sexually
irresistible men in technical professions:
* Bill Gates.
Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent
and remain that way until about thirty minutes after their clinical
death. Longer if it's a warm day.
Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and
human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers
away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't
handle the truth.
Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They
say things that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody
could be expected to believe them. The complete list of engineer
lies is listed below.
"I won't change anything without asking you first."
"I'll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow."
"I have to have new equipment to do my job."
"I'm not jealous of your new computer."
Engineers are notoriously frugal. This is not because
of cheapness or mean spirit; it is simply because every spending
situation is simply a problem in optimization, that is, "How
can I escape this situation while retaining the greatest amount of
POWERS OF CONCENTRATION
If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it
is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion
of everything else in the environment. This sometimes causes engineers
to be pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in high-tech
areas have started checking resumes before processing the bodies.
Anybody with a degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer programming is propped up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he or she
snaps out of it.
Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever
they can. This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes
one little mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal
EXAMPLES OF BAD PRESS FOR ENGINEERS
* Space Shuttle Challenger.
* Hubble space telescope.
* Apollo 13.
* Ford Pinto.
The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something
RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of
REWARD: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic
Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance
of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing. The
best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically
impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain.
If that approach is not sufficient to halt a project,
then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: "It's
technically possible but it will cost too much."
Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers:
* How smart they are.
* How many cool devices they own.
The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem
is to declare that the problem is unsolvable. No engineer can walk
away from an unsolvable problem until it's solved. No illness or
distraction is sufficient to get the engineer off the case. These
types of challenges quickly become personal -- a battle between the
engineer and the laws of nature.
Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to
solve a problem. (Other times just because they forgot.) And when
they succeed in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush
that is better than sex--and I'm including the kind of sex where
other people are involved.
Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion
that somebody has more technical skill. Normal people sometimes use
that knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer.
When an engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase
that means it's not fun to do), some clever normal people have learned
to glance at the
engineer with a look of compassion and pity and say something
along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out. He knows how to
solve difficult technical problems."
Rules of the lab
1. When you don't know what you're doing, do it neatly.
2. Experiments must be reproducible, they should fail
the same way each time.
3. First draw your curves, then plot your data.
4. Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined.
5. A record of data is essential, it shows you were working.
6. To study a subject best, understand it thoroughly before
7. To do a lab really well, have your report done well
8. If you can't get the answer in the usual manner, start
at the answer and derive the question.
9. If that doesn't work, start at both ends and try to
find a common middle.
10. In case of doubt, make it sound convincing.
11. Do not believe in miracles---rely on them.
12. Team work is essential. It allows you to blame someone
13. All unmarked beakers contain fast-acting, extremely
14. Any delicate and expensive piece of glassware will
break before any use can be made of it. (Law of Spontaneous Fission)