It’s Just Something That’s In Your Blood
I love being an engineer. I mean I really friggen dig it man. When I was a kid, I would take apart everything I could to see not only how it worked but to see if I could mod it and make it do different stuff. It started out small with radios, CB’s, Antennas, then Atari 2600 consoles, then up to satellite receiver units, telephone systems…. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But I started noticed board layout similarities. Things like power supplies having bigger components and more isolated from others. I noticed the closer you got to the user input the smaller the components became. They had funny symbols and colors that must mean something.
Heck I could take getting my butt whipped for acting out, that only hurt for a little bit. Of course my dramatic portrayal as; “That Really Hurt I’ll Never Do Again boy” would have received a standing O at the Oscars. In a moment of clarity and brilliance my Dad starting taking away my garage keys where my lab was and oh man! That would always work. I’d straighten up and fly right. He was an Air Force man. That’s why I joined the Navy…I just loved the bell bottom pants and truthfully it helped getting to know Robb later on in life. Robb is a huge Village People fan.
Now the Purser family was known for two things; Making really good whiskey and playing that music! I was born with a bottle in one hand (baby bottle with milk…I didn’t get booze until I could walk and stagger like a real man…my family was strict about that stuff) and a Fender Jaguar in the other. Although I did indeed play…I was not a musician. Not even close. OK I sucked. I started taking apart the pickups on my guitar and increasing/decreasing the windings of wire around the magnets to see how it changed the sound.
This is the turning point of the story where you’d cue up some dramatic tunes and sharping the camera focus on a single object then fade to rain on a window pane.
One day I really screwed up my uncles’ Peavy amp by swapping tubes with a high powered transmitter. Yeah…that really messed it up. This lead to my Dad taking it to an Electrical Engineer he knew at work to see if he could fix it.
I begged him to let me go to so I could see this; “Lynyrd Skynyrd of Lectricity” work. He took me to shut me up and my promise not to take apart the new Amana Microwave he just bought. (something my kids thank him for to this day…) I was truly star struck. Seeing this Dude was like watching Elvis (skinny Elvis not fat Viva Las Vegas Elvis) walk thru Hickory Hollow Trailer Park and Truck Stop. This Dude would speak a language that sounded like it came from the forbidden scrolls of knowledge from the Library at Babylon. He took the time to explain what he was doing and how it worked to me. Hours passed like seconds. Then he made a serious mistake…yep…he gave me his phone number and said…”If you ever have any questions, don’t be afraid to call….”
After he changed his phone number and then made it unlisted and then transferred to another division in South East Asia. I learned the real value of mentorship and of course stalking (but let’s just leave that in the juvie files for now…).
I started reading everything I could on electronics. Although, I had other interests growing up too, like superconductivity, ginseng hunting, fishing, digging for arrowheads, drag racing and girls it all came back to engineering. Well except girls…unless it was memorizing the mnemonic for resister code bands.
That amazement and wide eyed kid is still alive and well. When we get new gear into TechWiseTV, before the cord is unbundled and stretched out, the first thing I do is take it apart and critique the board layout. I pop off heat sinks to get the numbers off the chip so I can research the die size. See if I can find any RTL’s online (it’s rare but sometimes…). When I power it up, I care little about the interface…ohhh IOS big shock! Oh hey, Java and XML WebUI…woot. The REAL piece is how well does it run it? Is it multithreaded? How did you figure out co-arithmetic processing to handle stats? Yeah…now we’re talking! I wanna hear the fan pitch and see how it’s cooled. I wanna JTAG that mutha see if I can heck thru and download/upload low level code. Oh my goodness I actually got to do that on one product we had and it was the best TechWiseTV day ever! Sure it was a red board prototype but who cares man! Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, I think back to then and know it’s gonna be alright daddy-o.
I jump out of bed each morning ready to go! I hate sleep. Such a waste of time when I could be designing or researching. I’m grateful engineering pays good cash, but you know what? I would still do it even if it paid minimum wage. It’s just who I am. My question to you is a simple one. Do ya love what you do or is your first thought; “well it pays good” I’m a believer that life is short and we should enjoy every single minute of it. I’m certainly not saying if you don’t just love engineering leave it, just spend some of that money on something you really dig man!
Oh…and remember to give that wisdom back to the next generation of engineers. As a post script, I ran into the engineer my Dad introduced me to at a IEEE Plenary Meeting and got a chance to say thank you. He told me to give back to the next engineer behind me and obey the 500m restraining order….
Jimmy Ray Purser
Trivia File Transfer Protocol
Wanna know how many IPv6 active hosts you have on your network right now? Then just Ping ff02::1