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The next blog subject is . . . Ladybugs | Cypress Semiconductor

The next blog subject is . . . Ladybugs

Last post I asked for you, the esteemed readers of my blog, to tell me what  "method" I should use to pick the topic of this posting. The choices I gave were either (1) suggest a topic (16%), or (2) choose a random "hot topic" (16%), or (3) write whatever my daughter suggested (50%). The obvious winner was my daughter, and the loser is me, because now I have to write about ladybugs.

 

Ladybugs?? So here's the story. My daughter really likes ladybugs, she even collects them in a way. Rather than capturing and imprisoning them in a jar, she "collects" the ones she finds onto specific bushes and then monitors and plays with them. Playing with them consists of getting them to crawl on her finger, hand, arm, and then transferring them from one stem of a bush to another. She can usually see the bush she "collects" them on from the kitchen window, so instead of looking at them in a glass jar, the ladybugs see her looking at them from inside a "jar" - the house.

 

This same girl also plays with butterflys, dragonflys and potato bugs - but NO spiders, no matter how (microscopically) small they are. It is not uncommon to hear a shriek only to find her pointing at a spider with a 1mm body and 2mm legs begging for someone to eradicate it. And then she reminds us that there is a spider that is almost 1 foot long (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/061027-tarantula-video.html). That's not a spider, that's a foot! (I tried that same joke when we realized the pizzas we had last night were 12" in diameter - here's where we were having great pizza: http://www.tuttabellapizza.com/).

 

So what's this have to do with embedded design methodology? I'm glad you asked. When you are in the de-BUG-ging mode, it is very seductive to try to deal with the nicer, cuter, more friendly bugs (ladybugs) and try and avoid tackling the big, tough nasty bugs (like a goliath birdeater tarantula with 1 inch fangs). But the truth is, it takes the same approaches and tools to deal with easy or hard bugs.

 

Is there a disadvantage to leaving the worst bugs until last? Absolutely, it is the goliath birdeaters that break your schedule and make the marketing guys cry. Even when the issue is very rare and statistically not important (like a famous Pentium bug was) these days issues are measured in PPM (parts-per-million, where the numbers are expected to be low single digits), not percentage. And with twitter and other social communication methods, any single disgruntled user who encounters your "failure" can raise the issue to general knowledge/widespread panic (imagine going to bed after determining your "bug" only presents itself 1 time in a million and waking up to an interview on the "Today" with a kid who demonstrates how to force any of the 10 million widgets sold to go from smartphone to paperweight in seconds).

 

It is good to find, collect and quarantine the nice easy bugs as fast as possible, just don't become too fond of the ladybugs and ignore (until it's too late) the huge-fanged tarantulas. The knowledge gained in root-causing and correcting that elusive bug can be pro-actively applied to the next projects to prevent these types of problems. And raise confidence in your schedules (especially the things you schedule for your free time).

 

BTW, anyone doing the math might ask what the other 18% of reply-cants (people who replied, duh) wanted this topic to be? Well, of the 6(!!) replies I got, one person didn't read the operating instructions and simply gave me very good feedback but no topic. And due to a rare occurrence of a minor bug in my calculations, one divided by 6 equals 18% :). And I was soooooooo glad I didn't have to use Hot Trends and dice - out of 20 topics, the only one remotely interesting was Gorilla Glass (http://www.corning.com/gorillaglass/index.aspx). 

Sound off and let me know what you think:

 

 

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