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  • EEVblog #83 – Do you suck at Hardware or Software?

    Posted on May 4th, 2010 EEVblog 24 comments

    Drive time rant.
    Hardware vs Software, which one do you suck at?


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    • Anthony

      I currently suck at hardware and employed as a developer/systems engineer though I’m trying to even that out a bit with a FPGA CPU project. Definitely agree that it’s not easy or even possible for most people to completely master both… though I think taking advantage of an opportunity to try and gain more knowledge in an area you’re not the best at isn’t the worst of ideas. You never know what you may find.

    • http://dp-engineering.net mausball

      I suck at software, but only because I love hardware that much more. At one point in my life I was actually proficient in several programming languages at once. Then I focused on hardware for about a year, and now about all I can do is hack around with examples and pre-written bits of other peoples code. It’s good enough to make sure my hardware works though, which is good enough for me.

      • BurningDiode

        I’m actually the opposite. I hate hardware and love software. I got my degree in electrical engineering but later discovered for myself that there isn’t much I can do with it on my own time. Buying parts to do anything cool is expensive and takes up space.

        I actually began my college education in software engineering. Hated that (mostly the teachers and course atmosphere) but discovered I liked web design which got me re-interested in software later on in life. But when I got my hands on LabVIEW…my love affair for software just took off. Now I must code just to feel good. I can honestly say if you can learn labVIEW you basically understand how to program. It all looks different bu the logic is the same (mostly).

        • http://www.sixclear.com Brian Spears

          I may be biased, but I definitely think that hardware and software can be mastered by using LabVIEW. I say I’m biased because I used to work at National Instruments, the developers of LabVIEW, and now I work at Sixclear which does LabVIEW training and development. The whole point of LabVIEW is to code in the same manner you would design a block diagram for some process. So you graphically piece together blocks of code and the data “flows” through them. It ends up being more intuitive for engineers. There’s also a good amount of data abstraction so that communicating with instruments and networks is much easier than text-based code like C or VB (which I used to code in). Anyway, great blog Dave keep it up!

          PS – the new mic sounds great!

    • tchicago

      Much like mausball, I do software, but have hardware in my heart, which I do at my hobbytime. With the only exception that I hate tweaking someone else’s code and just putting it in my device. That’s suboptimal and means I fail to understand the chip myself. Got to make my own, only that makes me be proud of myself. Using some standard libraries that I understand well is OK for me though.

    • AskJacob

      Fortunately EE is only a hobby for me, so it is not a matter of if I eat next week on where I suck :)

      I find the hardware part I love the most. Many projects have died in the software stage just because of the effort to get the software just right. Code to bang the hardware, flex it’s muscles and make sure it works – no problem – and even a pro hardware guy needs to do that so they don’t end up in fistfights with the software guys over why the project isn’t working. But a fully polished finished software package for the hardware? Well, I have a big pile of unfinished projects where the hardware is done :)

      To the folk seeking future prospects, I tend to agree – if only due to the innovation – new hardware becomes available all the time to play with – whereas VHDL, C (and variants) have been pretty static over the past 15 years or more. But then again, that’s just me – I love new toys :). Perhaps software guys get just as excited finding new ways to utilise these toys!

      Cheers
      Jacob

    • http://sven.killig.de Sven Killig

      Err, what about publishing mono videos, Dave?

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        My video tool workflow does not cater for mono that well. Much easier to just do it all in the default stereo.

    • http://www.gryphongames.co.za Roelf P

      I have tried mastering both … and failed. Like Dave says, if you don’t work with things a lot you tend to lose the skills.

      I would like to think that I am good at both, but I’ve moved to software mostly nowadays as it requires less resources and you tend to not have to wait for PCBs to be made or parts to arrive.

      I do also feel that having a background in either will make you a better skilled person.

      Dave, I would like to see an online project, where you show us how you plan, design and build something from scratch?

    • http://www.elvtechnology.com.au/ Shaun Clarke

      Dave, just a quick note, there’s no link to the MP3 audio for this episode.

      Shaun

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Oops, MP3 is up now. Forgot to render before I went to work.

    • http://www.acsco.com Veramacor
      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        @Vermacor
        I wouldn’t get too excited about the Bull’n’Bush!

    • CJ

      I think Dave is absolutely right! You really can’t master everything, the best way to go for a product is a design team. The best time I’ve had out in industry is when I worked for a small company during the 80′s that developed chemical measuring instrumentation. We had on our team an analog/power engineer, a digital hardware engineer, software engineer, mechanical engineer, PCB designer, chemist and a full time machinist. All amazing at what they did, communication was excellent between teams members. If you can build a good team its truly amazing on what you can do with product design.

    • Kodon

      I suck at software :)
      But atleast I know where the hardware is capable of.

      PS. This blog was far more interesting than the geocaching (or whatever)…

      Good job!

    • Peter

      You should really get a Graphic EQ to take out the road noise.

      • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

        Someone said it does it great job on the road noise, and you say it doesn’t. Show of hands please!
        I used the high pass filter feature on my edit software, it was set to max at some frequency I can’t remember off-hand. There is no graphic equaliser function, but there might be a plug-in…

    • Seb_the_frog

      It depends where you are/will working,
      in big 100 or more people company, you will
      be hired for very specialised task with big wall between hard & soft.
      In little startup with innovative product and
      little money, you must be able to do software/hardware/prototyping/production/…

      SeB.

    • DB

      I think a distinction should be made between sucking because of a lack of ability and sucking because of a lack of experience.
      If you suck because of a lack of ability, then move on to something else.

      If you suck because of a lack of experience, then the solution is to get more experience.
      I suck at plumbing, but that is because I do not have a lot of experience. Not because I lack the ability to do it.

    • Sachmo

      I have to disagree.

      I think you can be good at both. It really depends on what type of products you are working on and what kind of company you are working for.

      Definitely, you need to specialize in something to get your foot in the door, but the people that can manage to do both become project leaders.

    • http://cartolog.com Rea Schubert

      Came to this site by Google looking for answers on embedding maps on my page and just wanted to say thank you for your help!