Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Having the right tools

Some pictures are better than others at inspiring deep thoughts or disclosing unexpected mind connections. The strange thing in all this is that you don't know where and when such epiphanies appear. If you're lucky this can occur just a moment before you decide to unveil your work and put it on display. For those, like us blog editors, who aim to put on the shelf both their pictures and inner feelings there can't be anything better.

I was uploading this picture of surgery tools I took last summer while visiting a World-War-I Austrian fortress, in Trentino, now turned into one of the best conserved and most instructive war museums in Italy, when a simple connection with my current job activity came up.

I've been using, let me dare to say mastering for years a design and verification methodology that used to give excellent results in the past time. As it always happens in every field of technical development, this methodology is now obsolete and no longer able to keep pace with the needs of modern electronic design. Having this in mind, years ago, I prepared myself in advance, attending presentations, courses and making short trials but never completed the step and made the grade. I kept on working with my good old methods, leveraging on the fact that mastering with it provided me the same quality levels of a weak grip on a new methodology.
I pushed this condition up to the limits, until I found myself alone in a dead-end, with a design environment that was shouting for something better, easier and safer. All my younger colleagues, although less experienced in "the method", were progressing on a field I was instead fearing to endeavor.

This evening, as I stopped watching again at the tools a surgeon living one century ago had at his disposal to attempt saving the lives of soldiers wounded by heavy artillery, I thought about the low level of self-confidence I had reached some days ago when I realized that my tools weren't good enough to carry on.

In such a situation, shoulders to the wall, I had to look at the new tools with a different sight, as if they were my parachute and, with some chances not to succeed, I started using them step by step although I knew that initially I would have had the same efficiency of a practitioner (incidentally this word, "practitioner", is used somewhere in the world to point out to what we, in Italy, call the family doctor).

After some highs and lows, today I completed my first evolutionary step and felt really happy at the end, when I saw that the system was working as expected. I don't know if this investment was really worth, i.e. if I'll keep on doing this activity in the coming years. I know it's been helpful in any case. Having the right tools is not an easy job. It's tremendously necessary.

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