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PCBD-Aug2015

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42 The PCB Design Magazine • August 2015 by Tim Haag inTeRCePT TeCHnoloGY TIM'S TAKEAWAyS Failure May not be an Option, but Sometimes it's a Reality On the surface it seemed like such a great idea: Grill up a bunch of chicken for a huge feast that would leave lots of leftovers while my wife was out of town. But I didn't realize when I pulled them from the freezer earlier that morn- ing that there were four pieces of chicken in ev- ery package instead of just two. "What the heck. Now I'll have even more leftovers and I won't have to cook for a week," was my bach- elor-mode thinking. But I had completely forgot- ten that with all of that chicken comes all of that grease, and soon my barbecue was engulfed in flames. F o r t u n a t e l y, I got the fire out before any major damage was done (except for my singed hair), but the charred chicken that I was left with wasn't very appetiz- ing—not even to the dog. And this wasn't some silly mistake from my youth; it was just a couple of months ago. In a word, failure! A famous line was spoken by actor Ed Har- ris, who portrayed NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz in the movie Apollo 13: "Failure is not an option!" It was a motivating and inspirational thing to hear. Sadly, though, sometimes failure is a reality that we have to deal with. Let's face it: If life has its ups, then it follows that there will be some downs as well. And in the world of PCB design, those of us sitting at a computer are no stranger to the occasional failure. One of the most prevalent failures that de- signers have to deal with is the general misun- derstanding about what we do. When I was de- signing full-time, I can't begin to tell you how many times I would try to explain what I did only to get a blank look in reply. My wife got so exasperated trying to explain my vocation to peo- ple that she eventually re- sorted to simply saying that I played video games all day long. That answer would usually still get the same blank looks, but at least the gamer crowd suddenly started treating me as an equal (which I'm not really sure was a step in the right direction). I was explain- ing my job to some construction contrac- tors one day, and after my lengthy explanation one of the guys simply asked, "Yeah, but can you roof it?" In my opinion, having your vocational zeal and enthusiasm abruptly dismissed like that is a classic form of failure. But it's not just the "great unwashed" who have no idea what circuit board design is all about. Sometimes, those who should know bet- ter can be a problem too. How many of you de- signers have ever been in a situation where an feature column

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