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'[EE] Test for embedded developer candidate'
2007\10\19@010736 by Vitaliy

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Four years of going through resumes and conducting interviews convinced me
that tests are the best and the most objective way to judge a candidate's
qualifications. Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:

http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf

This particular one was put together back in 2004, right now I'm working on
updating it to make it more relevant to what we do (feedback is welcome).

I'm thinking about putting together a couple more tests, to test math and
software development skills. While math test is easy to write, I'm having
difficulty coming up with specific problems to evaluate programming skills.

Joel Spolsky has this to say on the subject:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000073.html

Specifically, he suggests the following exercises:

1. Reverse a string in place
2. Reverse a linked list
3. Count all the bits that are on in a byte
4. Binary search
5. Find the longest run in a string
6. atoi
7. itoa (great, because they have to use a stack or strrev)

The exercises are followed up by a design problem (design a house or a trash
can or ...)

What do you think of those? In your opinion, what skills are essential for
embedded developers? What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2007\10\19@014019 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/19/07, Vitaliy <spam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> Four years of going through resumes and conducting interviews convinced me
> that tests are the best and the most objective way to judge a candidate's
> qualifications. Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>
> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf

Too easy?

{Quote hidden}

Nice. I failed to pass so this is a good test. ;-)

> The exercises are followed up by a design problem (design
> a house or a trash can or ...)
>
> What do you think of those? In your opinion, what skills are
> essential for embedded developers? What sets them apart from
> desktop app programmers?
>

This will depend on your product. I can write some simple
firmware (three in production now, a Namur sensor interface card,
a conduct level probe and a photoelectic sensor, two in HiTech
PICC and one in MPASM) but I won't be able to write  a more
complicated (say for one using embedded Linux).

Xiaofan

2007\10\19@020958 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 18, 2007, at 10:04 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

> Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>
> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf

Interesting.  I find the last question ("Draw schematic for a
one-stage AC amplifier with good temperature stability")
out-of-place WRT the rest of the test; perhaps I've just
been doing too much software and digital electronics (Hmm.
There weren't ANY digital questions on that test, were there?)


> 3. Count all the bits that are on in a byte

Hmm.  Would you expect clarity or clever algorithms?


> 7. itoa (great, because they have to use a stack or strrev)

Nonsense.  Many an itoa-like algorithm has been posted to piclist
that uses neither.

These aren't bad, but it's easy for me to imagine a microcontroller
programmer that has never implemented a linked list, or a windows
programmer that has never done their own string processing.

BillW



2007\10\19@035237 by Richard Prosser

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Vitaliy,
The test posted is pretty easy but I would be looking more st the way
the questions are answered, rather than the answers themselves.
For a position as an embedded developer, I'd also suggest some
questions involving digital & software items. Preferably include some
"tricky" ones where second order effects (transmission line
reflections, digital race conditions etc.) are likely to be involved.

You probably also may want to ask a question that has no easy
immediate answer to see how the candidate approaches  problems where
all the details are not available and  more investigation is required.

Of course, if you're scanning a hundred+ applications prior to an
interview, then a simple multi-choice may be more appropriate.

RP

On 19/10/2007, Vitaliy <.....spamKILLspamspam@spam@maksimov.org> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\10\19@041001 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>>
>> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf
>
>Too easy?

Maybe, but is about the sort of level I would expect for getting someone who
is looking to start in electronics. We used to give a similar sort of test
to prospective apprentices to see what hobby electronics they had done
before looking for work.

But bear in mind that when I got my current employment the sort of questions
I was being verbally asked were of a similar level to this, and I beat off
people with masters degrees ...


2007\10\19@042017 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> > Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
> >
> > http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf

some more comments from a nitpicker...

diodes: I don't know an anode from a cathode, I don't want to know and I
don't need to know. I do know the band on the component is the bar in
the symbol, that's all I need.

AC amplifier: no aplification factor is mentioned, so I'd offer either a
single capacitor between in put and output (factor ~1) or between output
and ground (factor ~0). Now that I think about it, no frequency range is
mentioned either, so I would specify 0 pF capacitors.

but I still think such a test can be a good starting point for a talk.
just don't treat the answers as if it were an exam.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@042331 by Jinx

face picon face
> What do you think of those ?

I think if you're going to ask questions involving logic, you could
ask the candidates, if they can't show specifically how a problem
would be solved (ie they aren't able to write some assembly on the
spot), the logical method(s) they might try to do it. As we know
with our projects, even given our collective experience, sometimes
the answer to a problem ends up not being the one we probably
thought it would have been

Depends what you're after. Knowledge they have now, or their
potential as problem solvers ?

> In your opinion, what skills are essential for embedded developers ?

Good general knowledge, or at least awarity, of sensors, protocols,
power supplies, that sort of thing. I appreciate that some may just
be starting their working life and have no hands-on experience, but
you may find out who were the geeks at school

> What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?

I guess those guys don't build their own circuits (mainly)

2007\10\19@043238 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I'm having difficulty coming up with specific
>problems to evaluate programming skills.
>

Rather than asking for actual software, try doing some scenarios. I am
assuming you are looking for an embedded systems programmer here.

e.g.
Scenario
requirements UART, I2C, data requires time stamp.

What interrupts would you use, how would you set up interface parameters?

(looking for timer and UART interrupts, possibly I2C interrupt, use of
EEPROM to store interface parameters).

2007\10\19@065041 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> > In your opinion, what skills are essential for embedded developers ?

For all software guy, maybe even for all engineering types: the desire
never to make the same mistake twice.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@072650 by Russell McMahon

face
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> never to make the same mistake twice.

Just eliminate ASL

       R




2007\10\19@073023 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

> Joel Spolsky has this to say on the subject:
>
> www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000073.html
>
> Specifically, he suggests the following exercises:
>
> 1. Reverse a string in place
> 2. Reverse a linked list
> 3. Count all the bits that are on in a byte
> 4. Binary search
> 5. Find the longest run in a string
> 6. atoi
> 7. itoa (great, because they have to use a stack or strrev)

These questions are about typical algorithms. Most programming on small
embedded systems is very little about algorithms, and much more about
real-time problems (race conditions), system-level questions (interrupts,
protected access to vars), interaction with timed events, correct use of
peripherals (being able to read data sheets) -- things that a typical
desktop programmer rarely has to worry about.

Gerhard

2007\10\19@080131 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> Just eliminate ASL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Sign_Language ?

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@084327 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/19/07, Gerhard Fiedler <listsspamKILLspamconnectionbrazil.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Quite true. Small and large embedded systems seem to be quite
different. In our small engineering organization, we have people
working on Small PLCs with 32bit MCUs and we have people
working on I/O modules with 8051s. The firmwares are very
different but both are called embedded software.

Xiaofan

2007\10\19@084348 by Martin

face
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Alan B. Pearce wrote:
>> Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>>    
>>> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf
>>>      
>> Too easy?
>>    
>
> Maybe, but is about the sort of level I would expect for getting someone who
> is looking to start in electronics. We used to give a similar sort of test
> to prospective apprentices to see what hobby electronics they had done
> before looking for work.
>
> But bear in mind that when I got my current employment the sort of questions
> I was being verbally asked were of a similar level to this, and I beat off
> people with masters degrees ...
>
>
>  
An MSEE often involves doing something more abstract than transistor
amplifiers which I would have studied a a few years before finishing my
MS degree. My MSEE thesis is on using encryption algorithms in FPGAs. I
learned a lot about encryption and FPGAs. Beating people who have an MS
over your BS doesn't really mean anything because they probably did
something fairly specific.
-
MK (MSEE '07)

2007\10\19@095157 by Mark Rages

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On 10/19/07, Martin <.....martinKILLspamspam.....nnytech.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I agree with you (I did no analog during my MSEE), but the test is
such an easy one, any MSEE should pass it.  It is similar to a
"fizzbuzz" test for programmers.  Necessary, but not sufficient, to
choose a qualified candidate.

It is sad that anyone applying for an embedded engineering position
would fail the test, but better to find out before hiring than after.

Regards,
Mark
markrages@gmail
--
Mark Rages, Engineer
Midwest Telecine LLC
EraseMEmarkragesspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmidwesttelecine.com

2007\10\19@101710 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/19/07, Mark Rages <markragesspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:

> > An MSEE often involves doing something more abstract than transistor
> > amplifiers which I would have studied a a few years before finishing my
> > MS degree. My MSEE thesis is on using encryption algorithms in FPGAs. I
> > learned a lot about encryption and FPGAs. Beating people who have an MS
> > over your BS doesn't really mean anything because they probably did
> > something fairly specific.
> > -
> > MK (MSEE '07)
>
> I agree with you (I did no analog during my MSEE), but the test is
> such an easy one, any MSEE should pass it.  It is similar to a
> "fizzbuzz" test for programmers.  Necessary, but not sufficient, to
> choose a qualified candidate.
>

I did analog during my MSEE by research but I would not be able
to solder 0805 SMD properly at the time. The interview was based
on schematics of a temperature sensor interface codes. I was
able to point out the converter topology and the inrush current
protection circuits and roughly the other fuctional block (MCU/
ADC/etc) and they (Pepperl+Fuchs Singapore) hired me. The
first month was orientation including some simple soldering
training by the production operators.


Xiaofan

2007\10\19@105717 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
I did a few interviews for the companies I worked for at the moment. My
favourite question was "explain the (professional) thing you did and are
most proud of". Talking about that thing and a few questions about it
always gave me a good impression of the general "thinking level" of the
candidate, which was (for the functions that we were hiring for) more
important than the immediate knowledge and skill level.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@105831 by Martin

face
flavicon
face


Mark Rages wrote:
> I agree with you (I did no analog during my MSEE), but the test is
> such an easy one, any MSEE should pass it.  It is similar to a
> "fizzbuzz" test for programmers.  Necessary, but not sufficient, to
> choose a qualified candidate.
>
> It is sad that anyone applying for an embedded engineering position
> would fail the test, but better to find out before hiring than after.
>
> Regards,
> Mark
> markrages@gmail
>  

True, I didn't mean to imply that it was hard. It seems very easy. When
I was interviewed for my job I had to draw some simple op-amp circuits.
Fortunately I remembered them quite well. Remembering what a chopper
stabilized op-amp does helped me out as well. I had completely forgotten
to study any electronics before the interview.
I did bring a sort of portfolio of everything I've done in eagle which
IMO was impressive for being all extra-curricular projects.
-
MK

2007\10\19@110113 by Peter P.

picon face
wouter van ooijen <wouter <at> voti.nl> writes:
> some more comments from a nitpicker...

You know, there are more ways to fail a test than to pass it. Starting a fight
with the tester on the basis of Svejk logic is one of the best ... just like
asking what the sum of 2 + 2 is and expecting to pass when answering 4 (hint the
correct answer is: there are three possible answers: 1 in base 3, 0 in base 4,
and 4 in all other bases higher than 4 - this is an ESPECIALLY relevant test wrt
embedded assembly and radix imho - not that I'd think about it like that but
*this* would be more of a theme for discussion than Dutch stubornness involving
0pf capacitors instead of a standard 1 stage common emitter transistor ac
amplifier with an emitter resistor ensuring degenerative feedback at dc and thus
temperature stability - the standard expected answer for such a test). I also
find it annoying that engineers write tests for technicians because they tend to
try to see the theoretical and 'potential' side of the answers where practice is
the emphasis for technicians. I had to spend many years in the company of people
I am no longer on speaking terms with due to professional divergences of the
most serious kind as a result of such 'genius' hiring policies. This does not
even touch the alpha ego problem (so brilliantly illustrated by Wouter) which is
a proven recipe for sparks in a team.

Peter P.


2007\10\19@110451 by Martin

face
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wouter van ooijen wrote:
> some more comments from a nitpicker...
>
> diodes: I don't know an anode from a cathode, I don't want to know and I
> don't need to know. I do know the band on the component is the bar in
> the symbol, that's all I need.
>
>  
An arrow should suffice. I have had a mental block on which is which
since I first ever read the words anode and cathode.

> AC amplifier: no aplification factor is mentioned, so I'd offer either a
> single capacitor between in put and output (factor ~1) or between output
> and ground (factor ~0). Now that I think about it, no frequency range is
> mentioned either, so I would specify 0 pF capacitors.
>
>  
I'd draw an op-amp circuit. It's extremely rare that in this day and age
anyone will need to draw a discrete amplifier especially having "good
temp. stability" without looking at a book.

I don't like closed book tests for this application. If you really want
to see resourcefulness and ingenuity which is what you probably want
from an employee you should give them a more difficult test and a stack
of books.
-
MK

2007\10\19@112224 by Alex Harford

face picon face
On 10/18/07, Vitaliy <@spam@spamKILLspamspammaksimov.org> wrote:
>
> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf

Good test, I like it.  I'd fail on the last question though. :(

> What do you think of those? In your opinion, what skills are essential for
> embedded developers? What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?

I'd focus on things like buses, CPU architecture, etc.

- Describe I2C, SPI, and the pros / cons of each.  Basically look for
an answer like SPI requires individual chip selects, I2C is only 2
wire, etc.
- How would you generate analog voltages from a uC?
- Draw a circuit to drive a high current LED from a uC.
- What uC's do you have experience with, describe the overall
architecture of them.

Alex

2007\10\19@112733 by Harold Hallikainen

face
flavicon
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> wouter van ooijen <wouter <at> voti.nl> writes:
>> some more comments from a nitpicker...
>
> You know, there are more ways to fail a test than to pass it. Starting a
> fight
> with the tester on the basis of Svejk logic is one of the best ... just
> like
> asking what the sum of 2 + 2 is and expecting to pass when answering 4
> (hint the
> correct answer is: there are three possible answers: 1 in base 3, 0 in
> base 4,
> and 4 in all other bases higher than 4 -

For more about number bases, listen to Tom Lehrer's "New Math" at
http://curvebank.calstatela.edu/newmath/newmath.htm

Harold


--
FCC Rules Updated Daily at http://www.hallikainen.com - Advertising
opportunities available!

2007\10\19@120317 by Herbert Graf

flavicon
face
On Thu, 2007-10-18 at 22:04 -0700, Vitaliy wrote:
> What do you think of those? In your opinion, what skills are essential for
> embedded developers? What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?

I can't comment too well on what questions to ask, the embedded world is
something completely different to almost anyone you ask. Some think
knowing ASM is paramount, others think you shouldn't need to read the
device datasheet...

However, I just want to mention that relying only on "correct answers"
is not a good idea IMHO. Don't get me wrong, I think it's VERY
worthwhile to "test" people during interviews, it's what I had to do to
get my current job.

That said, be aware that there are LOTS of people that are just great at
tests, but when you get them into real situations they don't work out.
Also, there are lots of people who AREN'T good at the fake world of a
"test", yet excel in the real world.

Also, I wouldn't concentrate on what exactly the applicant knows. Who
cares if they get a brain freeze and get one of the questions wrong.
What I'd be more focused on is how the applicant DEALS with not knowing,
or getting a question wrong.

I've heard of applicants getting ANGRY (i.e. yelling and fists pounding
on tables) with the interviewer, claiming the test "wasn't fair". I've
heard of applicants who, even when presented clearly WHY their answer is
wrong, will refuse to accept they might be wrong and state that their
answer is correct and it's the interviewer that's wrong.

In fact, a technique I've seen which I feel is very constructive is to
put progressively tougher questions to the applicant, incrementing until
you ARRIVE at a question they just don't get right. Anybody can learn
what you need them to know, the willingness TO learn is what's important
IMHO.

TTYL

2007\10\19@141511 by Vasile Surducan

face picon face
On 10/18/07, Vitaliy <KILLspamspamKILLspamspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> Four years of going through resumes and conducting interviews convinced me
> that tests are the best and the most objective way to judge a candidate's
> qualifications. Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>
> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf


Most of your candidates have graduated just a high school or this test
is for a college or university graduation  ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_school#United_States

thx,
Vasile

{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\10\19@142905 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> the standard expected answer for such a test

I don't expect (and probably don't want) to pass any test where standard
answers are expected. Luckily most of my career I worked in positions
were that was appreciated. Note that I don't frown on people who do
preduce the expected answers: such persons are needed, and in great
numbers, but I am not one of them.

> This does not even touch the alpha
> ego problem (so brilliantly illustrated by Wouter) which is a
> proven recipe for sparks in a team.

Now I have done it again - I illustrated a problem I don't even know
about! But maybe that is the problem, or else it is the language :)

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@143000 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> just like asking what the sum of 2 + 2
> is and expecting to pass when answering 4 (hint the correct
> answer is: there are three possible answers: 1 in base 3, 0
> in base 4,
> and 4 in all other bases higher than 4

I disagree (of course!). The correct answer is 2, in all bases, because
+ is (OK, among other interpretations...) the mathematical notation of
the IOR operation.

I just dragged 2 fresh classes through an introduction course on
computer technology. One boy almost lynched me when, after having to
learn to add and substract in all kinds of number systems, he also had
to absorb that his familiar + sign (which had just been extended to
adding of non-base-10 number) could also mean IOR. I could of course
only sympathise. I tried to hint him about other rings and semi-rings. I
don't think any of that got through, which was probably for the better.

My conclusion: every communication (including a question) needs a
context. In most cases it is the responsibility of the sender to make
sure that the receiver knows the intended context. Don't assume too
easily that your familiar context is the only possible one. Been there,
hit my nose: being a (part-time) teacher I have to make exam texts. It
is amazing how easily a question that seemed perfectly clear to me can
be misunderstood because I did not make my assumtions (context)
explicit. Needless to say, in such situations (provided that the student
gave the correct answer under his interpretation) I must give the full
points for the question, even though I did not get the answer I wanted.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@144505 by James Newton

face picon face
I would rather see a few questions about debugging.

e.g. "What is a Read-Modify-Write problem and how can they be avoided?"

"If you have a system in which there are 5 logical or physical processes
with test points between each, and you know what the data should look like
at each test point, given that the input data is correct, and the output
from the system is incorrect, which test point would you validate first?"

"What is the advantage of In Circuit Debugging over In Circuit Emulation?"

"Given a system that fails consistently in actual operation but operates
correctly as soon as it is attached to a test fixture, list some methods you
might employ to find the problem."

"The only tools you can have to debug a project are an LCD panel (parallel
interface) or a single logic probe with pulse mode. Which would you select?"

And a few others:

"You are asked to recommend a microcontroller for a low quantity system that
will be used in house only. Do you select a chip with all the required
hardware on board, or "bit bang" the few interfaces needed via software and
specify a lower cost chip with less onboard peripheral hardware? What if it
was a high quantity system for sale to a large market segment?"

"If you are hired as a contract programmer for the initial coding of a
project that is expected to have a long life and possibly many revisions,
would you choose to write the code in a commonly available language with
which you are less familiar or with a little known language which you have
used many times in the past?" (no right answer to that one, but it will be
an interesting conversation)

"During the development of a proprietary application in the workplace, you
hit upon a unique way of solving a common programming problem which does not
directly relate to the project. Will you A) publish the snippet B) Ask your
boss if you can publish the snippet C) not mention the solution to anyone
but use it again at this or other jobs in the future."

{Original Message removed}

2007\10\19@151025 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> (no right answer to that one, but it
> will be an interesting conversation)

IMHO that is the golden remark for all such questions. The answer you
might dismiss immediately as totally wrong might be the only correct one
in a certain context, which just happens to be the context in which your
candidate has worked for 20 years.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\19@161628 by Alex Harford

face picon face
On 10/19/07, James Newton <RemoveMEjamesnewtonTakeThisOuTspammassmind.org> wrote:
> I would rather see a few questions about debugging.
>
> e.g. "What is a Read-Modify-Write problem and how can they be avoided?"

Ah, and a C related question:

where would you use the 'volatile' keyword?

2007\10\19@172950 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> e.g. "What is a Read-Modify-Write problem and how can they
> be avoided?"

Use a decent processor :-)

> "Given a system that fails consistently in actual
> operation but operates
> correctly as soon as it is attached to a test fixture,
> list some methods you
> might employ to find the problem."

Make an artificial test fixture.

A standard finger would make you rich.

> "During the development of a proprietary application in
> the workplace, you
> hit upon a unique way of solving a common programming
> problem which does not
> directly relate to the project. Will you A) publish the
> snippet B) Ask your
> boss if you can publish the snippet C) not mention the
> solution to anyone
> but use it again at this or other jobs in the future."

Presumably Bresenham got it right.

       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bresenham's_line_algorithm



       Russell


2007\10\19@180929 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
James Newton wrote:

> "If you are hired as a contract programmer for the initial coding of a
> project that is expected to have a long life and possibly many
> revisions, would you choose to write the code in a commonly available
> language with which you are less familiar or with a little known
> language which you have used many times in the past?" (no right answer
> to that one, but it will be an interesting conversation)

Actually, from what could be inferred by the question, there is probably a
right answer.

Gerhard

2007\10\19@181301 by peter green

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> What do you think of those? In your opinion, what skills are essential for
> embedded developers? What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?
>  
I guess it depends what you mean by embedded programmers and what you
mean by desktop programmers.

A lot of desktop programming, especially for internal use is done in
languages like java, vb, the .net familily etc. Theese allow crappy
programmers to turn out code that is just about acceptable but tend to
result in apps that are slow and bloated.

In the embedded world we don't generally have that luxury, traditional
languages like C and C++ with predictable (and generally quite good)
performance but few safegaurds against programmer stupidity are used.
Sometimes it is also basterdised versions of those languages. For
example symbian C++ lacks exceptions replacing them with something
lighter but more dangerous called leaves. PIC C has seperate rom and ram
pointers and size/speed constraints mean that things like sprintf are
generally avoided.

Depending on the particular embedded application they may also have to
understand hardware, interrupts etc. Something that desktop developers
are pretty isolated from. They may need to know assembler and how to
read device datasheets.  how to work with buggy compilers and many other
things.


2007\10\19@181550 by Jinx

face picon face
> but I still think such a test can be a good starting point for a talk

Ah, a conversation. We'll have just the right generation for you

====================

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4211545a6442.html

Curriculum change shifts emphasis from 'what' to 'how'

A controversial new national curriculum will teach pupils how to
hold a conversation or ask for help rather than remember facts,
historic dates or periodic tables

> just don't treat the answers as if it were an exam.

Mary Chamberlain, overseeing the project for the Education Ministry,
says that although people are "rattled" by the changes, "there's no use
(students) being little knowledge banks walking around on legs.

"We've got computers, we don't need people walking around with
them in their heads... People just have to get used to that."

====================

Teaching kids back to the Stone Age

2007\10\19@182953 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

>> what skills are essential for embedded developers?
>> What sets them apart from desktop app programmers?

Good question for an interview, even just like that.

Embedded developers mostly need to be able to visualize how
the hardware behaves or misbehaves.  ("deeply embedded" here,
not "windows running in a kiosk"!)

Desktop app programmers mostly need to be able to
visualize how the users behave or misbehave.

BillW

2007\10\19@184537 by Paul Anderson

face picon face
On 10/19/07, wouter van ooijen <spamBeGonewouterspamBeGonespamvoti.nl> wrote:
>
> diodes: I don't know an anode from a cathode, I don't want to know and I
> don't need to know. I do know the band on the component is the bar in
> the symbol, that's all I need.
>
As an aside, I always remember cathode = negative, because of Cathode
Ray Tubes.  The electron beam comes from the cathode, and electrons
are negative.  Thus the cathode must be negative:)


--
Paul Anderson
VE6HOP
TakeThisOuTwackyvorlonEraseMEspamspam_OUTgmail.com
http://www.oldschoolhacker.com
"May the electromotive force be with you."

2007\10\19@212430 by James Newton

face picon face
I dated a girl named Cathy once... This particular Cathy was all I ever
needed to remember that Cathodes are negative. YMMV, and apologies to
pleasant Cathy's all round.

--
James.

{Original Message removed}

2007\10\19@215517 by Jinx

face picon face
part 1 276 bytes content-type:text/plain; (decoded 7bit)

> This particular Cathy was all I ever needed to remember that
> Cathodes are negative

b) Chatty Cathodes in mail groups frowned on ;-)

c) know any positive Annies ?

d) the attached, which shows the two ends look like the letters



part 2 172 bytes content-type:image/gif; (decode)


part 3 35 bytes content-type:text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
(decoded 7bit)

2007\10\19@222759 by Funny NYPD

picon face
It is actually very hard to test the programming skill, some time the mechanical and physical knowledge is also required for a programmer.

Funny



{Original Message removed}

2007\10\19@232147 by Peter P.

picon face
wouter van ooijen <wouter <at> voti.nl> writes:
> My conclusion: every communication (including a question) needs acontext.

In this case the context was the word 'sum' in the definition of the problem.

Peter P.



2007\10\20@000301 by Peter Todd

picon face
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On Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 09:26:39AM -0200, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
{Quote hidden}

An example I just ran into:

Built one quick pic thing with a serial protocol to download/upload info
to a computer. Works great at 115200baud. (after much debugging)

Take the same code and transplant it to a led controller with software
pwm. Works ok in debugging, changing the value of single leds works
fine, but the control app, which does hundreds every second, fails
miserable.

Why did the first work so well, with more data transfer, and the second
fail? Easy, the second spends 95% of it's time handling pwm, and PICs
have a 1-byte rx buffer, the former does nothing but read/write.

Solution: Move the rx state machine to the interrupt handler and enable
the usart RX interrupt.

Took me all of 30 minutes to figure out and fix, but I think I'd pass
the "reads data sheets from top to bottom in preference to actually
getting work done" test. :)

- --
http://petertodd.org
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2007\10\20@002855 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Alan B. Pearce wrote:
> >Here's an example that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>>>
>>> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf
>>
>>Too easy?
>
> Maybe, but is about the sort of level I would expect for getting someone
> who
> is looking to start in electronics. We used to give a similar sort of test
> to prospective apprentices to see what hobby electronics they had done
> before looking for work.

When we came up with the test back in 2004 (I haven't changed anything since
then, just fixed some typos), we thought so too. Out of about six candidates
that took the test, only one was able to correctly answer all the questions.
The rest got <60%, although they looked very good on paper. One candidate
was even slightly indignant, like it was beneath him: "there is a TEST?!"

The last engineer we hired didn't have to take a test, but only because I
saw the project that he did for the student project fair (he also brought
work samples to the interview).

Vitaliy

2007\10\20@003631 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
> Interesting.  I find the last question ("Draw schematic for a
> one-stage AC amplifier with good temperature stability")
> out-of-place WRT the rest of the test; perhaps I've just
> been doing too much software and digital electronics

Agreed. I'll take it off.

> (Hmm.
> There weren't ANY digital questions on that test, were there?)

No, but you're right -- there should be. One thing I'm going to have there
for sure, is designing a circuit from a truth table, and vice versa. Any
other suggestions?

Keep in mind it cannot be very time consuming.

>> 3. Count all the bits that are on in a byte
>
> Hmm.  Would you expect clarity or clever algorithms?

IMO, it's irrelevant. This is a pass/fail test, to weed out those who can't
do it at all.

>> 7. itoa (great, because they have to use a stack or strrev)
>
> Nonsense.  Many an itoa-like algorithm has been posted to piclist
> that uses neither.
>
> These aren't bad, but it's easy for me to imagine a microcontroller
> programmer that has never implemented a linked list, or a windows
> programmer that has never done their own string processing.

These aren't mine, they're Joel Spolsky's. :)  AFAIK, his company is not
doing any embedded development.

Vitaliy

2007\10\20@010639 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
wouter van ooijen wrote:
> but I still think such a test can be a good starting point for a talk.

That's how it's meant to be used, in addition to being the most objective
measure of candidate's ability. Along with a real-time, hands-on solving of
a problem (sort of like what Joel suggests).

> just don't treat the answers as if it were an exam.

Of course not. Most of the time, there's no gray area: the candidate either
passes with flying colors, or cannot solve the Ohm's law problem.

We have a similar test for our shipping/receiving position. I interviewed
two candidates in August, both with great resumes and both passed the phone
screen. The first candidate had a 4.0 GPA in high school, and was
maintaining a 4.0 GPA in college. He spent an hour on four simple problems,
and answered "four boxes" to the last question:

"There are two boxes: Box 1 (20x10x10) and Box 2 (30x10x5). Which box is
bigger? How many 5x2x1 boxes can you fit in the bigger box?"

Candidate #1 also couldn't convert pounds to kilograms (given the conversion
factor).

The second candidate correctly solved all four in about 7 minutes (I assume
he could not believe how simple the test was, and spent a couple of minutes
verifying his work). He also brought his own pencil and calculator, even
though he didn't know about the test.

Guess who got the job.

2007\10\20@012119 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
wouter van ooijen wrote:
>> > In your opinion, what skills are essential for embedded developers ?
>
> For all software guy, maybe even for all engineering types: the desire
> never to make the same mistake twice.

How would you determine that?

2007\10\20@012123 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Martin wrote:
>> diodes: I don't know an anode from a cathode, I don't want to know and I
>> don't need to know. I do know the band on the component is the bar in
>> the symbol, that's all I need.
>>
>>
> An arrow should suffice. I have had a mental block on which is which
> since I first ever read the words anode and cathode.

Drawing of the diode would count as the right answer, but knowing that anode
is the (+) side would be icing on the cake.

> I'd draw an op-amp circuit. It's extremely rare that in this day and age
> anyone will need to draw a discrete amplifier especially having "good
> temp. stability" without looking at a book.

I thought that was an easy question. A simple common emitter circuit with a
voltage divider is really all I'm looking for.

This question doesn't really belong on the test, since we're doing digital
work almost exclusively. But FWIW, I knew the answer when I was 14 (it's
mentioned in every intro text on analog amps) -- long before I had any idea
what a 555 is.

> I don't like closed book tests for this application. If you really want
> to see resourcefulness and ingenuity which is what you probably want
> from an employee you should give them a more difficult test and a stack
> of books.

I think for any profession, there's a certain level of "base" knowledge that
is expected. The aim of this test is to determine the breadth of the
candidate's knowledge, in a short period of time -- so IMHO it should have
many simple 30-second problems.

I like the idea of progressing from simple to more complicated questions, so
if this was a PIC test, the candidate would be provided with a datasheet. I
don't like the idea of providing books, because that can really skew the
results. Someone familiar with a particular book would have an unfair
advantage.

2007\10\20@012432 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
wouter van ooijen wrote:
>I did a few interviews for the companies I worked for at the moment. My
> favourite question was "explain the (professional) thing you did and are
> most proud of".

This is a mandatory question in all of our interviews, regardless of the
type of job.

2007\10\20@012723 by Jinx

face picon face
> One thing I'm going to have there for sure, is designing a circuit
> from a truth table, and vice versa. Any other suggestions?

I was going to suggest gates

How about a little Boolean - AND, XOR, IOR two numbers. And
binary addition and subtraction

Spell Schottky ;-)

Deduce the Q output states of a digital counter, a 4040 for example,
that's been clock a given decimal number of times

Four inputs into a chain of logic gates - what's the output ? (Don't
be too mean, supply the truth tables, writing 0's and 1's on the gates
allowed)

2007\10\20@013401 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Alex Harford wrote:
> I'd focus on things like buses, CPU architecture, etc.
>
> - Describe I2C, SPI, and the pros / cons of each.  Basically look for
> an answer like SPI requires individual chip selects, I2C is only 2
> wire, etc.
> - How would you generate analog voltages from a uC?
> - Draw a circuit to drive a high current LED from a uC.
> - What uC's do you have experience with, describe the overall
> architecture of them.

Hm, great ideas. What I'm thinking is, there should be a battery of tests:

- Math
- Basic Electronics
- Digital
- Microcontrollers
- Programming
- "Subtests": PIC, Embedded programming, Java programming

This way, it's possible to mix-n-match, depending on the position.


2007\10\20@014452 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Vasile Surducan wrote:
> Most of your candidates have graduated just a high school or this test
> is for a college or university graduation  ?
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_school#United_States

Vasile, it is with much sadness that I have to report that IMO most current
EE/CE students would not pass this test.

On Wednesday I was one of the industry reps judging a local student project
fair, and it's obvious that the college has significantly lowered the bar,
compared to just eight months ago. Their enrollment is way down, so there's
pressure to graduate as many students as possible.

I spoke to the dean of the engineering programs, and volunteered to go to
local high schools on behalf of the college to talk about engineering, and
help conduct project competitions. We'll see what happens...

2007\10\20@015017 by Charles Craft

picon face
-----Original Message-----
>From: Vitaliy <RemoveMEspamspamTakeThisOuTmaksimov.org>
>Sent: Oct 20, 2007 1:19 AM
>To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <piclistEraseMEspam.....mit.edu>
>Subject: Re: [EE] Test for embedded developer candidate
>
>wouter van ooijen wrote:
>>> > In your opinion, what skills are essential for embedded developers ?
>>
>> For all software guy, maybe even for all engineering types: the desire
>> never to make the same mistake twice.
>
>How would you determine that?
>--
I don't know an elgant way to say lazy in a nice way but
the good system and network admins are just that - in a good way.  :-)

blogoscoped.com/archive/2005-08-24-n14.html
"Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb"

www.pbm.com/~lindahl/real.programmers.html
"Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal"

2007\10\20@015910 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
James Newton wrote:
>I would rather see a few questions about debugging.
[...]

I think these tests are more appropriate for another test (micros/PICs), and
since personally I would prefer to answer them orally (since the answers
will likely be rather wordy).

> "Given a system that fails consistently in actual operation but operates
> correctly as soon as it is attached to a test fixture, list some methods
> you
> might employ to find the problem."

Hm, I'd be curious to know the answer to this one, myself! :)

> "The only tools you can have to debug a project are an LCD panel (parallel
> interface) or a single logic probe with pulse mode. Which would you
> select?"

Both? Isn't this application and problem dependent?

> "You are asked to recommend a microcontroller for a low quantity system
> that
> will be used in house only. Do you select a chip with all the required
> hardware on board, or "bit bang" the few interfaces needed via software
> and
> specify a lower cost chip with less onboard peripheral hardware? What if
> it
> was a high quantity system for sale to a large market segment?"

This sounds almost too easy, but I see the value in it. :)  It's kind of
like the question on an application I filled out once, "It is OK to steal
from the company if everyone is doing it. True or False?"

Some people are really that dumb, and it's good to have these sorts of
questions to quickly weed them out.

> "If you are hired as a contract programmer for the initial coding of a
> project that is expected to have a long life and possibly many revisions,
> would you choose to write the code in a commonly available language with
> which you are less familiar or with a little known language which you have
> used many times in the past?" (no right answer to that one, but it will be
> an interesting conversation)

What would you look for, in their answer?

> "During the development of a proprietary application in the workplace, you
> hit upon a unique way of solving a common programming problem which does
> not
> directly relate to the project. Will you A) publish the snippet B) Ask
> your
> boss if you can publish the snippet C) not mention the solution to anyone
> but use it again at this or other jobs in the future."

Not enough information?


2007\10\20@020037 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Alex Harford wrote:
> Ah, and a C related question:
>
> where would you use the 'volatile' keyword?

Keep them coming! :)

2007\10\20@020752 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Jinx wrote:
> How about a little Boolean - AND, XOR, IOR two numbers. And
> binary addition and subtraction

Good, good.

> Spell Schottky ;-)

:-)

> Deduce the Q output states of a digital counter, a 4040 for example,
> that's been clock a given decimal number of times

Yes.

> Four inputs into a chain of logic gates - what's the output ? (Don't
> be too mean, supply the truth tables, writing 0's and 1's on the gates
> allowed)

Supply the truth tables for the GATES? Jinx, you're kidding! :)

2007\10\20@022448 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> He also brought his own pencil and calculator, even
> though he didn't know about the test.

> Guess who got the job.


The nerd?

       R


2007\10\20@022449 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
>> One thing I'm going to have there for sure, is designing
>> a circuit
>> from a truth table, and vice versa. Any other
>> suggestions?

Should borderline analog/digital capability be of interest:


Explain the operation of the following circuit(s)

- Circuit of classic 2 transistor Schmitt trigger with
inmput triangle wave shown

- 2 transistor NPN/PNP oscillator with AFAIR 2 x R and 1 x
C.

It's notionally a multivibrator, but it comes from hell.

For that matter,

- Classic 2 transistor both eg NPN multivibrator.

- Std 2 and 3 inverter RC oscillator circuits.

Extra credit - comment on proble with the 2 transistor cct
which the 3 transistor version doesn't have

________________________

All the above circuits bend the brain - the more so if you'e
never met them before. Driving nodes negative and having
them recover with RC time constant makes operation
'interesting'..


_________________________

A few MOSFET ccts which use them "backwards" to do real
things - or series opposed :-)

_______________

Getting a bit specific, and non digital, but fun.



       R


2007\10\20@031802 by Vasile Surducan

face picon face
On 10/19/07, Vitaliy <EraseMEspamspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> Vasile Surducan wrote:
> > Most of your candidates have graduated just a high school or this test
> > is for a college or university graduation  ?
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_school#United_States
>
> Vasile, it is with much sadness that I have to report that IMO most current
> EE/CE students would not pass this test.

Which students ? From MIT ?
Then where is the problem ? The teacher, the student or the system?
I have almost defined the ideea for a complete practical course about
electronics (yes with electronic components in plastic bag glued on
every course) covering everything in about 1000 pages splitted as
separately issues. Minimal math or no math inside treating the
phenomena and not the equations. Courses which must be readed with the
soldering iron in the hand and with the protoboard on the table.


>
> On Wednesday I was one of the industry reps judging a local student project
> fair, and it's obvious that the college has significantly lowered the bar,
> compared to just eight months ago. Their enrollment is way down, so there's
> pressure to graduate as many students as possible.
>
> I spoke to the dean of the engineering programs, and volunteered to go to
> local high schools on behalf of the college to talk about engineering, and
> help conduct project competitions. We'll see what happens...
>
> -

2007\10\20@033234 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 19, 2007, at 9:33 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

> Any other suggestions?

Debugging, in both the HW and SW section.  A "what's wrong with this
circuit/function?"  For HW, I suggest missing base resistors, or NPN
transistors as high-side drivers, driven from a micro output.  For
embedded software, how about one of these:

int checkinput()
{
    unsigned char c;
    c = getc();  /* getc returns assorted negative vals for errors. */
    if (c < 0) {
       return -1; /* But we just want a single error val. */
    }
    return c;
}

---- or ---- (this one would translate well to assembler, too.)

int setbit (int word, int whichbit)
{
    return word | (1 << whichbit);  /* Set the specified bit */
}
int clearbit (int word, int whichbit)
{
   return word & (1 << whichbit);   /* Clear the specified bit */
}

(the whole (1<<whichbit) C syntax seems to catch a lot of people who
you think would know better.)  (double points on the second problem
if they complain about no range check for whichbit.)

----

In retrospect, the software questions weren't too bad, if you're not
being overly picky about 100% perfect answers.  Even someone not too
familiar with the

BillW

2007\10\20@033925 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 19, 2007, at 10:31 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

> there should be a battery of tests

the well-qualified candidate will get sick of
trivial tests and form a bad impression of your
company.  If I receive a response to an application
for a job, I expect to talk to someone who knows
what the job is about so "we" can come to a decision
on whether I'm suited for the job.  I don't expect
a "battery" of tests designed to see whether I was
lying through my teeth on my resume!

There might be an exception for students just entering
the job market.  In theory, they're good at doing tests;
perhaps better than interviewing!

BillW

2007\10\20@042834 by wouter van ooijen
face picon face
> >> > In your opinion, what skills are essential for embedded
> developers
> >> > ?
> >
> > For all software guy, maybe even for all engineering types:
> the desire
> > never to make the same mistake twice.
>
> How would you determine that?

That was not the question :)

In students I can see a clear division. When a student had a problem,
and now he does not, there are two clearly separate attitudes: go on
and forget about it, or being determined to find the root cause (and
presumably, never do it again). The last attatitude is the most
promising for a programmer.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@042834 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> > My conclusion: every communication (including a question) needs
> > acontext.
>
> In this case the context was the word 'sum' in the definition
> of the problem.

(nitpick mode, don't take me too serious)

That word did not have any meaning, because you stated "sum of 2 + 2". "
2 + 2 " is only one item, so it cannot be summed, so the word has to be
meaningless.

(one level higher in the nitpicker mode)

But summing is defined for any number of elements, from 0 up!

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@042836 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> As an aside, I always remember cathode = negative, because of
> Cathode Ray Tubes.  The electron beam comes from the cathode,
> and electrons are negative.  Thus the cathode must be negative:)

I'll try to remember that one. My attempt was "cold cathode", which
implies that "warm cathode" also exists, and I do know that the purpose
of the heat is to boil out the electrons. But often I could not remember
whether it was supposed to be "cold cathode" or "cold anode" :(

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@042836 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> Spell Schottky ;-)

and those who spell it correctly fail?

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@050539 by Peter P.

picon face
wouter van ooijen <wouter <at> voti.nl> writes:
> presumably, never do it again). The last attatitude is the most
> promising for a programmer.

May I ask in what quality you teach ? Teacher, assistant, lecturer, professor ?
And whether this is a University or another type of institution ? Of course
there is no need to answer, as you like. I am just curious.

thanks,
Peter P.


2007\10\20@052907 by Jinx

face picon face
> Supply the truth tables for the GATES? Jinx, you're kidding! :)

Oh, OK. Guess they aren't that hard. You either know them or
you don't. Perhaps don't use

But they have to spell Schmitt as well

What about the basics of a power supply ? eg what voltage and
VA-rating transformer would you use to get 12VDC @ 2A ?
Draw a bridge rectifier

What does a choke do in a PSU ? What does a filter cap do ?

Why do digital ICs need big and small bypass caps ?

2007\10\20@055923 by John La Rooy

flavicon
face
On 10/20/07, Martin <RemoveMEmartinEraseMEspamEraseMEnnytech.net> wrote:

> An arrow should suffice. I have had a mental block on which is which
> since I first ever read the words anode and cathode.
>

Perhaps it helps to remember that in a CRT the current flows when the
cathode is negative compared to the anode...

2007\10\20@060845 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/20/07, Vitaliy <RemoveMEspamspam_OUTspamKILLspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> Hm, great ideas. What I'm thinking is, there should be a battery of tests:
>
> - Math
> - Basic Electronics
> - Digital
> - Microcontrollers
> - Programming
> - "Subtests": PIC, Embedded programming, Java programming
>
> This way, it's possible to mix-n-match, depending on the position.

Will this scare the candidates to death? ;-)

I do not see the point if the following is correct.
On 10/20/07, Vitaliy <RemoveMEspamTakeThisOuTspamspammaksimov.org> wrote:
> Vasile, it is with much sadness that I have to report that IMO most current
> EE/CE students would not pass this test.
>

>From which universities? I think there are better universities out there.
I tend to think the text books used in the US universities are pretty
difficult. I was sitting in a undergraduate digital control engineering
course in a private university and I still needed to spend some efforts
on it to get an "A".

But I would not be too much surprised if the students are from local
public state universities. As a Teaching Assistant for a senior
engineering course in a top 50 US University (public), I found it hard
to believe
that some of the 4th year EE students lack the very very basic maths
and engineering skills.

Xiaofan

2007\10\20@061441 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/20/07, William Chops Westfield <EraseMEwestfwspamspamspamBeGonemac.com> wrote:
>
> On Oct 19, 2007, at 10:31 PM, Vitaliy wrote:
>
> > there should be a battery of tests
>
> the well-qualified candidate will get sick of
> trivial tests and form a bad impression of your
> company.  If I receive a response to an application
> for a job, I expect to talk to someone who knows
> what the job is about so "we" can come to a decision
> on whether I'm suited for the job.  I don't expect
> a "battery" of tests designed to see whether I was
> lying through my teeth on my resume!

I tend to agree with this. The only interview I went to
which has the tests was from a no-name company.

Xiaofan

2007\10\20@062830 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> > presumably, never do it again). The last attatitude is the most
> > promising for a programmer.
>
> May I ask in what quality you teach ? Teacher, assistant,
> lecturer, professor ? And whether this is a University or
> another type of institution ? Of course there is no need to
> answer, as you like. I am just curious.

The Dutch higher eduactional system is not 1-1 compareable with most
other systems, but I'll give it a try. We have 2 types of higher
eduaction (both compareable to USA University), one is more theoretical
and has a somewhat higher status, the other is a bit more practical and
has (surprise, surprise) a somewhat lower status. For both types the
rule (up to now) is that you go for one subject, for instance Technical
Informatics. All of that is in a state of some change, with some merging
of the two types, and introduction of major/minor profiles.

Take care with naming: the lower type is called 'hogeschool', the higher
type 'university', but historically also 'technische hogeschool'.   So
our 'hogeschool' is definitely not the USA 'highschool'.

I have a 40% assignment at the Hogeschool Utrecht (the more practical
type). I am not sure what the USA equivalent of my assignment would be.
In my country a 'professor' is the head of a university department,
often more a manager than a teacher. A 'hogeschool' can not have a
professor. I am not sure what the distinction is between teacher and
lecturer. My job is to give classes, to prepare new classes, and to
generally contribute to the curriculum. We have a slightly lower grade
of teacher who is only supposed to give classes, not to develop new
ones. We also have assistants, who are more important than anyone else
(OK, except for the secretary) because they make sure all technical
stuff works. Where would I be without the beamer, classroom PCs,
oscilloscopes, etc! We also have a higher (than me) grade of teacher who
is also responsible for coordination of a small group (~10 teachers) and
initiating new directions for the curriculum.

The fact that I work for this particular school is a coincidence. I quit
my 'normal' job some years ago and hired myself out for some time, but I
don't have the minset for selling myself in that way, so after a few
assignments (and some troubles in New York) that did not go smoothly.
Meanwhile my shop and consulding developed in a promising but slow way,
so I was looking for some work to add to this. Also 'meanwhile' our 3
kids were born and my wife's career developed promising, so we opted for
a part-time job for me that allows me to handle the kids 4 days out of 5
(the 5'th is for my wife). Teaching is perfect for this, and Utrecht is
nearby. (This year I also teach at their branch in Amersfoort, which is
only 100m from my house!). I met a coordinator of the Technical
Informatics branch at a computer fair, we talked a little, and I got an
assignement. In practice I work for Technical Informatics, Emedded
Systems, and (this year) Security Systems.

All clear?

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@072253 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

> Out of about six candidates that took the test, only one was able to
> correctly answer all the questions.

If you really get so many way-below-qualification resumes that can't be
detected clearly on paper, such a simple test makes a lot of sense. Someone
who can't answer a few really simple questions doesn't even have to be
interviewed.

> The last engineer we hired didn't have to take a test, but only because I
> saw the project that he did for the student project fair (he also
> brought work samples to the interview).

That's probably the deal. You'll know a good engineer when you talk to
him/her. You 'feel' the substance. The test is just to weed out the ones
you don't even have to talk to.

That Joel article may not be realistic in one point. He says to 'just say
no' when you're not sure you got the right person. But sometimes you need
to get a job done, can't do it yourself, and don't seem to find the 'right'
one -- which sounds like your situation with the graphics designer. And
sooner or later you'll need to give the job to someone; which may not be
the 'right' one. Engineering compromises :)

Gerhard

2007\10\20@073647 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Russell McMahon wrote:

> All the above circuits bend the brain - the more so if you'e never met
> them before. Driving nodes negative and having them recover with RC time
> constant makes operation 'interesting'..

I think there are two types of tests. One is with very simple questions
that have a clear (and usually simple) answer with little space for
ambiguities (and if someone starts to nitpick awfully off-topic, you also
know who not to hire -- after all, that doesn't fit into the 'gets the job
done' category you need, which often requires just the 'right' feel to
understand the /purpose/ behind the requirements document rather than the
unusual meanings in the words in that document :) Here the purpose is
simple: got it, you're in the next step, didn't get it, you're out. Save
time.

The other is with questions that are sort of open-ended and leave space for
going into various directions. Here the focus is not on the result, but on
the way the candidate elaborates, to get to know how she thinks. Spend
(some) time.

IMO brain benders go into the second category :)

Gerhard

2007\10\20@075339 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:

> the well-qualified candidate will get sick of trivial tests and form a
> bad impression of your company.  

I thought of adding a short explanation to the top of the simple weed-out
test.

> If I receive a response to an application for a job, I expect to talk to
> someone who knows what the job is about so "we" can come to a decision
> on whether I'm suited for the job.  I don't expect a "battery" of tests
> designed to see whether I was lying through my teeth on my resume!

Of course you're right -- in an ideal world :)

Reality may be different. If the market is so that for any such ad there
are only a handful candidates, your expectation is realistic. If OTOH there
are often hundreds of candidates for an ad, your expectation is
unrealistic, and if I were the hirer and you made your expectation clear to
me, that could disqualify you. If you don't understand the very real need
of the hirer to weed out 150 candidates that can't answer a simple test
that is way below the actual requirements and that should take you all of
ten minutes to answer, so that he can spend his time more productively with
the 10 that pass it, you're likely not to understand the many more
real-world compromises one has to make in a business.

Gerhard

2007\10\20@080315 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

>> "If you are hired as a contract programmer for the initial coding of a
>> project that is expected to have a long life and possibly many
>> revisions, would you choose to write the code in a commonly available
>> language with which you are less familiar or with a little known
>> language which you have used many times in the past?" (no right answer
>> to that one, but it will be an interesting conversation)
>
> What would you look for, in their answer?

IMO correct answer is 'present the client with the pros and cons and let
the client decide'. (The pros and cons in this situation typically include
a higher price tag up front for the more common language but a good chance
of a higher price tag in the long run for the little known language.)
Implementation language for a project that the client is supposed to
continue to maintain is something the client has to decide (and sign off)
up front. They may still leave the decision up to me, but they need to know
what they're getting themselves into and need to sign off the decision.

IMO this is very basic for contract programming, but not so relevant for an
in-house programmer. A programmer who always was employee may not have a
satisfactory answer here, because the situation is too far away for his
reality. OTOH, if he's expected to lead contract engineers, he should be
able to give you some comments in the sense of 'this would never happen; of
course I'd specify the implementation language for any project we hire
out'.

Gerhard

2007\10\20@101511 by Byron Jeff

flavicon
face
On Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 10:04:36PM -0700, Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Ouch!

>
> Candidate #1 also couldn't convert pounds to kilograms (given the conversion
> factor).

Double ouch!

>
> The second candidate correctly solved all four in about 7 minutes (I assume
> he could not believe how simple the test was, and spent a couple of minutes
> verifying his work). He also brought his own pencil and calculator, even
> though he didn't know about the test.
>
> Guess who got the job.

Duh.

As usually it illustrates those who memorize and those who understand. I'll
take a flexible problem solver anytime over a bank of facts. Of course I
prefer both when possible. ;-)

BAJ

2007\10\20@104617 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> "There are two boxes: Box 1 (20x10x10) and Box 2 (30x10x5).
> How many 5x2x1 boxes can you fit in the bigger box?"

Two remarks, modestly nitpicking:

- I am not allowed to ask such 'stacked' questions
- 200 might be OK for a mathematician, but definitely wrong in the real
world!

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\20@111235 by Tony Smith

picon face
> Four years of going through resumes and conducting interviews
> convinced me that tests are the best and the most objective
> way to judge a candidate's qualifications. Here's an example
> that tests basic electronics knowlege:
>
> http://scantool.net/pub/electronics_test.pdf
>


How about this one
<http://www.forddoctorsdts.com/quizzes/MechanicalAptitude.php>?

No electronics (has electrical though).  If nothing else, it tests that you
read the question properly.  I wonder how many mechanics pass that one.

FWIW, I don't think the Joel Spolsky test is all that useful for most
desktop app programmers, it's more a 'have you graduated recently' test.
Bit twiddling?  Linked lists?  Desktop stuff is probably more design &
language knowledge than low level coding, we have libraries for that stuff.
Embedded programmers often don't have libraries, of course, so that's a bit
different.

Tony

2007\10\20@111556 by Charles Craft

picon face
He didn't mention a pocket protector or sliderule/calculator hanging on the belt.

-----Original Message-----
>From: Russell McMahon <RemoveMEapptechKILLspamspamparadise.net.nz>
>Sent: Oct 20, 2007 2:17 AM
>To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <piclistSTOPspamspamspam_OUTmit.edu>
>Subject: Re: [EE] Test for embedded developer candidate
>
>> He also brought his own pencil and calculator, even
>> though he didn't know about the test.
>
>> Guess who got the job.
>
>
>The nerd?
>
>        R
>
>
>-

2007\10\20@112303 by Tony Smith

picon face
> > but I still think such a test can be a good starting point
> for a talk
>
> Ah, a conversation. We'll have just the right generation for you
>
> ====================
>
> www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4211545a6442.html
>
> Curriculum change shifts emphasis from 'what' to 'how'
> Mary Chamberlain, overseeing the project for the Education
> Ministry, says that although people are "rattled" by the
> changes, "there's no use
> (students) being little knowledge banks walking around on legs.
>
> "We've got computers, we don't need people walking around
> with them in their heads... People just have to get used to that."


Ah, so the answer to 'Is our childrens learning?' would seem to be 'No, they
can just look it up on Google.'

Sounds good to me.  Flaws, what flaws?

Tony

2007\10\20@113344 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/20/07, wouter van ooijen <spamBeGonewouterSTOPspamspamEraseMEvoti.nl> wrote:
> > "There are two boxes: Box 1 (20x10x10) and Box 2 (30x10x5).
> > How many 5x2x1 boxes can you fit in the bigger box?"
>
> Two remarks, modestly nitpicking:
>
> - I am not allowed to ask such 'stacked' questions
> - 200 might be OK for a mathematician, but definitely
> wrong in the real world!
>

One more nitpick, the unit is not specified, so  any answer will
be correct. ;-)  So it is the examiner who failed. ;-)

And Wouter's remark reminded me of my working
experiences in the the cosmetics bag company,
I was helping the shipment girl to fill up the 20 feet
container and we often had problems if we do not
leave some buffers.

In that company I did almost everything (calculating materials,
wrting production instructions, translation, shipping, HR, QC,
fixing telephones, etc) except operating the sewing machine. ;-)

Xiaofan

2007\10\20@114220 by David VanHorn

picon face
> I'll try to remember that one. My attempt was "cold cathode", which
> implies that "warm cathode" also exists, and I do know that the purpose
> of the heat is to boil out the electrons. But often I could not remember
> whether it was supposed to be "cold cathode" or "cold anode" :(

They certainly do!  Heaters are used, at various voltages and currents
to get the cathode emitting.  (Potential for innuendo abounds..)

2007\10\20@142751 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>> the well-qualified candidate will get sick of trivial tests and form a
>> bad impression of your company.
>
> I thought of adding a short explanation to the top of the simple weed-out
> test.

There is one already. :)

{Quote hidden}

It's not really about weeding out 150 candidates, in most cases 95% of the
candidates are eliminated upfront based on their resume.

It's mostly about determining whether a particular candidate out of the
remaining 5% actually has the basic qualifications for the job.
Unfortunately, the resume is a rather poor indicator. Even though it may not
be "lying", some people tend to embellish their resumes. Maybe their
definition of "an expert in C" is very different from mine -- and I need to
know what it is.

The test is not a prerequisite for the interview, in fact it's only given to
those candidates who have already passed the resume sort and the phone
screen. I found that most candidates don't mind taking the test, I have
never had anyone flat out refuse to take one. And those that get somewhat
indignant ("whaat?! there's a test?!"), are usually the ones that know the
least.

The bottom line is, the test helps us make better hiring decisions, and it
saves a lot of our and the candidate's time. If someone can't apply Ohm's
law to a circuit, we're going to fire this person anyway -- why not weed
them out upfront?

Vitaliy

2007\10\20@144204 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>> Out of about six candidates that took the test, only one was able to
>> correctly answer all the questions.
>
> If you really get so many way-below-qualification resumes that can't be
> detected clearly on paper, such a simple test makes a lot of sense.
> Someone
> who can't answer a few really simple questions doesn't even have to be
> interviewed.

My view is different: interview first, then test.

>> The last engineer we hired didn't have to take a test, but only because I
>> saw the project that he did for the student project fair (he also
>> brought work samples to the interview).
>
> That's probably the deal. You'll know a good engineer when you talk to
> him/her. You 'feel' the substance. The test is just to weed out the ones
> you don't even have to talk to.

Hm, I don't trust my gut feeling that much. Some people are just great
communicators, and know a lot of the jargon. The test is a sort of
confirmation of my good feeling. :)

> That Joel article may not be realistic in one point. He says to 'just say
> no' when you're not sure you got the right person. But sometimes you need
> to get a job done, can't do it yourself, and don't seem to find the
> 'right'
> one -- which sounds like your situation with the graphics designer. And
> sooner or later you'll need to give the job to someone; which may not be
> the 'right' one. Engineering compromises :)

Actually, I found that to be very true. If you can't find the right person,
it's better not to fill the position, rather than fill it with a "warm
body".

I did have a weak moment, and hired a "second choice" graphics designer in
August. When after two weeks I found myself constantly holding his hand, and
explaining how to use filters in Photoshop, I realized I had to fire him. A
lot of money, and mine and his time down the drain. Not to mention the sleep
I lost over it, and the grief this caused him. The guy has two young kids,
and after he was hired I found out he's in financial trouble (he brought me
some forms from the bank to sign).

The same idea is the core of the "From Good to Great" book. Great companies
are more about great people, than anything else. It's a recurring theme --  
just recently I read about it in "Peopleware". They put it diplomatically,
something to the effect of "the candidate may need to transfer to a
different department, or even a different company"

Vitaliy

2007\10\20@144508 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
wouter van ooijen wrote:

>> "There are two boxes: Box 1 (20x10x10) and Box 2 (30x10x5).
>> How many 5x2x1 boxes can you fit in the bigger box?"
>
> Two remarks, modestly nitpicking:
>
> - I am not allowed to ask such 'stacked' questions
> - 200 might be OK for a mathematician, but definitely wrong in the real
> world!

Not sure if 200 would be ok for a mathematician. A real mathematician
probably would say "depends (mostly on the wall thickness and whether the
measurements are inside or outside), but assuming a reasonably thin wall
and all maximum outside measurements, at least 130".

OTOH there are people who have a real good eye for such things, including
how to place things optimally, and are quick with very accurate estimates
-- but who couldn't calculate their way out of an open box :)

Gerhard

2007\10\20@144747 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Jinx wrote:
>> Supply the truth tables for the GATES? Jinx, you're kidding! :)
>
> Oh, OK. Guess they aren't that hard. You either know them or
> you don't. Perhaps don't use

I don't have the truth tables memorized (haven't really used gates since my
freshman year), but I can "derive" them for any gate, because I remember
what a gate should behave like, based on its name. :)

> What about the basics of a power supply ? eg what voltage and
> VA-rating transformer would you use to get 12VDC @ 2A ?
> Draw a bridge rectifier
>
> What does a choke do in a PSU ? What does a filter cap do ?

These are rather specific to power supplies, maybe these should be in a more
advanced test.

> Why do digital ICs need big and small bypass caps ?

This is one for a more advanced micro test. I agree that it's a good way to
determine whether someone has had hands-on experience, beyond coursework.

2007\10\20@151749 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Xiaofan Chen wrote:
>> Hm, great ideas. What I'm thinking is, there should be a battery of
>> tests:
>>
>> - Math
>> - Basic Electronics
>> - Digital
>> - Microcontrollers
>> - Programming
>> - "Subtests": PIC, Embedded programming, Java programming
>>
>> This way, it's possible to mix-n-match, depending on the position.
>
> Will this scare the candidates to death? ;-)

I think both you and Bill misunderstood my intent (my bad). Of course no one
will be asked to do all of the tests. Only the one(s) appropriate for the
position. In any case, a candidate with the appropriate skill set would be
able to complete the tests

> I do not see the point if the following is correct.

I think the point is, I will hire great people, or I won't hire at all.

>>From which universities? I think there are better universities out there.

Just a local private technical university (DeVry).

> I tend to think the text books used in the US universities are pretty
> difficult. I was sitting in a undergraduate digital control engineering
> course in a private university and I still needed to spend some efforts
> on it to get an "A".

Yes, that is how I remember it too. Things have radically changed in recent
years.

> But I would not be too much surprised if the students are from local
> public state universities. As a Teaching Assistant for a senior
> engineering course in a top 50 US University (public), I found it hard
> to believe
> that some of the 4th year EE students lack the very very basic maths
> and engineering skills.

:(

Vitaliy

2007\10\20@152303 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Vasile Surducan wrote:
> Which students ? From MIT ?

No, I'm sure MIT students are all smart. :)

> Then where is the problem ? The teacher, the student or the system?
> I have almost defined the ideea for a complete practical course about
> electronics (yes with electronic components in plastic bag glued on
> every course) covering everything in about 1000 pages splitted as
> separately issues. Minimal math or no math inside treating the
> phenomena and not the equations. Courses which must be readed with the
> soldering iron in the hand and with the protoboard on the table.

Is this something you're willing to share?



2007\10\20@152431 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
> On 10/20/07, wouter van ooijen <KILLspamwouterspamBeGonespamvoti.nl> wrote:
>> > "There are two boxes: Box 1 (20x10x10) and Box 2 (30x10x5).
>> > How many 5x2x1 boxes can you fit in the bigger box?"
>>
>> Two remarks, modestly nitpicking:
>>
>> - I am not allowed to ask such 'stacked' questions
>> - 200 might be OK for a mathematician, but definitely
>> wrong in the real world!
>>
>
> One more nitpick, the unit is not specified, so  any answer will
> be correct. ;-)  So it is the examiner who failed. ;-)

It is correct if you can justify the answer. :)

2007\10\20@155651 by James Newton

face picon face
>James Newton wrote:
>>I would rather see a few questions about debugging.
>[...]
>
>I think these tests are more appropriate for another test (micros/PICs),
and
>since personally I would prefer to answer them orally (since the answers
>will likely be rather wordy).

Sorry, I thought that was the subject of the test, but going back and
reading again, I see I was wrong.

>> "Given a system that fails consistently in actual operation but operates
>> correctly as soon as it is attached to a test fixture, list some methods
>> you
>> might employ to find the problem."
>
>Hm, I'd be curious to know the answer to this one, myself! :)
>

- More sensitive test fixture (that applies less load the signals being
measured).

- Target the lines that could be affected by the test fixture to narrow the
possible cause of the problem.

- Use ICD rather than ICE or other external test fixtures.

- Check for grounding or other electrical supply problems that the test
fixture might be correcting when it is connected.

>> "The only tools you can have to debug a project are an LCD panel
(parallel
>> interface) or a single logic probe with pulse mode. Which would you
>> select?"
>
>Both? Isn't this application and problem dependent?
>

I suppose you could say that... My thinking is that toggling an LED is one
instruction and easy to insert just about anywhere; calling an LCD output
routine is going to be a more serious change to the code and more likely to
throw off timing, and so on. Less invasive is generally better. Perhaps
there is a better question to get to the idea that the critical point in
debugging is to not be invasive of the system under test.

<SNIP>

>> "If you are hired as a contract programmer for the initial coding of a
>> project that is expected to have a long life and possibly many revisions,
>> would you choose to write the code in a commonly available language with
>> which you are less familiar or with a little known language which you
have
>> used many times in the past?" (no right answer to that one, but it will
be
>> an interesting conversation)
>
>What would you look for, in their answer?
>

Recognition that a more common language will better allow future programmers
to update the code. If he only thinks about himself, he will try to justify
his own favorite language. As an example, and hopefully without turning this
into a "C vs ASM" debate, if you are going to be the only programmer and you
like ASM better, then fine, but if you are doing something that others will
then need to maintain, C is the better choice. 50 people will now list cases
where that is not true, but I'm speaking in generalities here.

>> "During the development of a proprietary application in the workplace,
you
>> hit upon a unique way of solving a common programming problem which does
>> not
>> directly relate to the project. Will you A) publish the snippet B) Ask
>> your
>> boss if you can publish the snippet C) not mention the solution to anyone
>> but use it again at this or other jobs in the future."
>
> Not enough information?
>

What information would you want?

2007\10\20@202103 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/21/07, Vitaliy <EraseMEspamspamEraseMEmaksimov.org> wrote:
> >>From which universities? I think there are better universities out there.
>
> Just a local private technical university (DeVry).

I see. But I think Professor Chen's C18 bsed PIC course is pretty good.
http://faculty.tp.devry.edu/~schen/
He s  "schen" in Microchip Forum.

> > I tend to think the text books used in the US universities are pretty
> > difficult. I was sitting in a undergraduate digital control engineering
> > course in a private university and I still needed to spend some efforts
> > on it to get an "A".
>
> Yes, that is how I remember it too. Things have radically changed in recent
> years.

That was not so long ago. I attended RPI (http://www.rpi.edu) for a
semester in Fall 2003. Even though I did not like Troy and
my supervisor and chose to quit my study, I think RPI is an
excellent university and the undergraduate program is really good.

> > But I would not be too much surprised if the students are from local
> > public state universities. As a Teaching Assistant for a senior
> > engineering course in a top 50 US University (public), I found it hard
> > to believe that some of the 4th year EE students lack the very
> > very basic maths and engineering skills.
>
> :(

In the lab, there are some dual 25V power supplies. The first thing I asked
them to do is to connect the power supply to get 30V. Half of the students
could not get it done. I was a good TA so after the course, they all knew
how to do that and got trained in soldering. With proper training, I think they
were not that bad after all.

That being said, I think the graduate program in US universities (top 100)
are all world class.


Xiaofan

2007\10\20@204113 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

>>> Out of about six candidates that took the test, only one was able to
>>> correctly answer all the questions.
>>
>> If you really get so many way-below-qualification resumes that can't be
>> detected clearly on paper, such a simple test makes a lot of sense.
>> Someone who can't answer a few really simple questions doesn't even
>> have to be interviewed.
>
> My view is different: interview first, then test.

I don't think this is a good choice. After an interview, there shouldn't be
much need for such a simple test. And why would you want to interview the
five who couldn't answer the questions? Aren't they disqualified?

That's my point with two sets of test questions. One set is a very simple
test, kind of a "need to get it right" test. Anybody who doesn't get it all
right is not right for the job. If that get's rid of 50% of the candidates,
you just increased the time you can spend in selecting among the real
candidates by 100%.

The second set consists of questions that you may or may not bring up
during the interview, not to get a right or wrong answer, but to get a
conversation started.

>> That's probably the deal. You'll know a good engineer when you talk to
>> him/her. You 'feel' the substance. The test is just to weed out the
>> ones you don't even have to talk to.
>
> Hm, I don't trust my gut feeling that much. Some people are just great
> communicators, and know a lot of the jargon. The test is a sort of
> confirmation of my good feeling. :)

That's what I would use the second set of question for, and the (first)
test to give you the time to talk properly to the people who passed it.

Gerhard

2007\10\20@204511 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

> The bottom line is, the test helps us make better hiring decisions, and
> it saves a lot of our and the candidate's time. If someone can't apply
> Ohm's law to a circuit, we're going to fire this person anyway -- why
> not weed them out upfront?

Exactly -- that's why I wonder why you would interview such people in the
first place.

Gerhard

2007\10\20@204525 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Vitaliy wrote:

> The bottom line is, the test helps us make better hiring decisions, and
> it saves a lot of our and the candidate's time. If someone can't apply
> Ohm's law to a circuit, we're going to fire this person anyway -- why
> not weed them out upfront?

Exactly -- that's why I wonder why you would interview such people in the
first place.

Gerhard

2007\10\20@214111 by Jinx

face picon face
> > How about a little Boolean - AND, XOR, IOR two numbers.
> > And binary addition and subtraction
>
> Good, good

I need a holiday. A car parked just near the end of our drive last
night had the plate AND254. Do you know what I really really first
read it as ? andlw 0xfe

Roll on Christmas




2007\10\20@214825 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/21/07, Gerhard Fiedler <@spam@lists@spam@spamspam_OUTconnectionbrazil.com> wrote:
> > The bottom line is, the test helps us make better hiring decisions, and
> > it saves a lot of our and the candidate's time. If someone can't apply
> > Ohm's law to a circuit, we're going to fire this person anyway -- why
> > not weed them out upfront?
>
> Exactly -- that's why I wonder why you would interview such people in the
> first place.

This depends on the manager. Some of them will rely on the HR to
filter out the resumes. Some of the managers does not trust the
HR since some of the HR staffs are not so competent. And it is
not easy to filter the resumes nowadays, especially for fresh graduates.

Xiaofan

2007\10\20@224052 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> I need a holiday. A car parked just near the end of our
> drive last
> night had the plate AND254. Do you know what I really
> really first
> read it as ? andlw 0xfe

COFFEE = 12,648,430
COFFEE = 60,177,758

The first of those, written on our research room whiteboard
long long and several lifetimes ago, used to cause people to
stand in silent contemplation for long moments and then to
either erupt with delight or walk away shaking their heads.

________

>From the same era:

I followed a motorcycle that tugged at my brain for reasons
which I could not place.
After some while I realised that the number plate was
"26BNE".
What processor was I working with at the time?
_______

The ST6 processor, which I used for a specific product some
while ago, lacks either AND or OR instruction. I forget
which. You have to use DeMorgan's theorum to implement the
missed instruction.

The ST6 is close to the truest RISC uP I've met. It's close
to a NISC. A PDP8 instruction comes closer but is more
powerful :-). And the ST6 is horrendously slow for a given
clock speed - about 12 cycles per instruction AFAIR. Despite
all that it's entirely usable and well behaved and it did
what I wanted. It had ADC on most pins, which makes life
much easier.

I've recently added the ST7 8 pin 6 I/O variants to my
'maybe' list for a new project. I have done NO research on
them at all yet, other than noting that they are about as
cheap as anything else (the nearly OVERWHELMING
requirement), and now have 10 bit ADC on all (6) I/O pins.

I wonder if it's grown an OR instruction over the years?



       Russell




> --

2007\10\21@001915 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 8:22 AM, Tony Smith wrote:

> so the answer to 'Is our childrens learning?' would seem
> to be 'No, they can just look it up on Google.'

Have you read Vernor Vinge's "Rainbows End" ?  He has an
interesting take on that direction...

BillW

2007\10\21@002610 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 11:25 AM, Vitaliy wrote:

> I found that most candidates don't mind taking the test, I have
> never had anyone flat out refuse to take one.

I wouldn't mind one test, under the terms you seem to use.  But
I would object to the "battery of tests."  You can HAVE a battery
of tests, but you should be able to narrow it down to one relevant
test per interviewed candidate.

BillW

2007\10\21@002931 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 12:10 PM, Vitaliy wrote:

>>> - Math  - Basic Electronics  - Digital  - Microcontrollers
>>> - Programming  - "Subtests": PIC, Embedded programming, Java  
>>> programming
>>
>> Will this scare the candidates to death? ;-)
>
> I think both you and Bill misunderstood my intent (my bad). Of  
> course no one
> will be asked to do all of the tests. Only the one(s) appropriate  
> for the
> position. In any case, a candidate with the appropriate skill set  
> would be
> able to complete the tests

That would probably be OK.  It's just that I can  easily see ALL of  
those
applying to an "embedded developer" position.

BillW

2007\10\21@002947 by Jinx

face picon face
> so the answer to 'Is our childrens learning?' would seem
> to be 'No, they can just look it up on Google.'

A magazine columnist suggested that future games shows
would have questions like "Name three web sites where you
can find out how many continents there are"


2007\10\21@010111 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 5:21 PM, Xiaofan Chen wrote:

> I think the graduate program in US universities (top 100)
> are all world class.

We've been through this before.  "World class" students or
researchers (or even professors) don't necessarily make good
'real world' developers.

BillW

2007\10\21@035505 by David VanHorn

picon face
\
> A magazine columnist suggested that future games shows
> would have questions like "Name three web sites where you
> can find out how many continents there are"

"What is your name?   You have 10 seconds!"

2007\10\21@071909 by Geo

flavicon
face
On 21 Oct 2007, at 15:36, Russell McMahon wrote:

> >From the same era:
>
> I followed a motorcycle that tugged at my brain for reasons
> which I could not place.
> After some while I realised that the number plate was
> "26BNE".
> What processor was I working with at the time?
Ah yes - writing eprom monitor code in 6800 hex...


George Smith

2007\10\21@074816 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face

>> I followed a motorcycle that tugged at my brain for
>> reasons
>> which I could not place.
>> After some while I realised that the number plate was
>> "26BNE".
>> What processor was I working with at the time?

> Ah yes - writing eprom monitor code in 6800 hex...

6802 - correct.

Real time multitasking thesis project written in machine
code (not assembler) coz the assemblers were too dear and
they hadn't bought one :-). Analysed telephone dialing and
progress tones.

Uphill, both ways, in the snow ... .

That sad, one could hardly find a more nicely structured
machine to write machine code out of your head for. All the
bit fields together and in order and ... unlike many
machines which scatter them hither and you. I/we had no idea
at the time how lucky we were.



       Russell

2007\10\21@124825 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 6:21 PM, Xiaofan Chen wrote:

> That was not so long ago. I attended RPI (http://www.rpi.edu) for a
> semester in Fall 2003. Even though I did not like Troy and
> my supervisor and chose to quit my study, I think RPI is an
> excellent university and the undergraduate program is really good.

I would have to state that so far, all of the engineers I've worked  
with over the last (just under) 20 years in my career who had RPI  
degrees, have all been top-notch.  To a person, they've all also been  
slightly over-confident, also -- but perhaps it's justified.  They  
all "knew" they were good.  They all also had a deep love of their  
engineering (a passion for it, shall we say) and would help people  
outside of work hours on just about anything.

(Side-note: Olin's an RPI grad, I believe.)

Whether or not I've seen a large enough "sample" of the RPI  
population overall, is probably up for debate.  I know the number of  
RPI grads I've met isn't statistically significant!  :-)

It makes for an interesting side-question:  What are the values and  
teaching techniques at RPI that help differentiate the people that  
come out of the program?

I've also worked with a number of MIT grads and without question  
they're all very good too, but seem less interested overall in  
"mundane" engineering -- if I had to think up a way to describe it.  
They know their stuff, but tend to gravitate away from "normal"  
problems as soon as they've shown someone else how to do the  
engineering work to fix them.  Not that this is "bad" in any way, but  
definitely a different "feel" than the RPI guys.

(And I say RPI "guys" because honestly, the school is something like  
90% male or more... no offense meant to either the female RPI  
engineering candidates or the MIT folks... just general observations  
over a couple of decades.)

--
Nate Duehr
spamBeGonenatespamKILLspamnatetech.com



2007\10\21@234155 by Charles Craft

picon face
Microsoft Calculator says Octal is 60,177,756

In Google: (0xc0ffee in octal) 0xc0ffee = 0o60177756

{Original Message removed}

2007\10\21@235021 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>> The bottom line is, the test helps us make better hiring decisions, and
>> it saves a lot of our and the candidate's time. If someone can't apply
>> Ohm's law to a circuit, we're going to fire this person anyway -- why
>> not weed them out upfront?
>
> Exactly -- that's why I wonder why you would interview such people in the
> first place.

Because I agree with Joel Spolsky on this:

"One temptation of recruiters is to try and add a few extra hoops to the
application process. I've frequently heard the suggestion of including a
programming quiz of some sort in the application procedure. This does work,
in the sense that it reduces the number of applications you get, but it
doesn't work, in the sense that it doesn't really improve the quality. Great
developers have enough choices of places to work that only require the usual
cover letter/resume application to get started; by inventing artificial
hoops and programming tests and whatnot simply to apply, you're just as
likely to scare away good programmers as weak programmers. Indeed, you may
be more likely to scare away the best programmers, who have the most
alternatives, and get left with a pool of fairly desperate candidates who
are willing to do extra work to apply simply because they don't have any
alternatives."

After the resume sort, I'm normally left with just a few candidates. When I
said "save time" I meant that the 15- or even 60-minute test has the
potential of saving weeks, or however long it would take to realize that the
candidate isn't fit for the job -- even though their resume looked great,
and they aced the interview.


2007\10\22@010249 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
May have been a transcription error, or we may actually have
been drinking COFFEC that day

You can be sure that it would have been well checked at the
time.


       Russell



> Microsoft Calculator says Octal is 60,177,756
>
> In Google: (0xc0ffee in octal) 0xc0ffee = 0o60177756

2007\10\22@012702 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
> I wouldn't mind one test, under the terms you seem to use.  But
> I would object to the "battery of tests."  You can HAVE a battery
> of tests, but you should be able to narrow it down to one relevant
> test per interviewed candidate.

True. I guess what I really wanted to say was, "pick problems from different
tests to make one" in case the "standard" tests don't cut it for a certain
position. :)

2007\10\22@013126 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
William "Chops" Westfield"  wrote:
>Only the one(s) appropriate
>> for the
>> position. In any case, a candidate with the appropriate skill set
>> would be
>> able to complete the tests
>
> That would probably be OK.  It's just that I can  easily see ALL of
> those
> applying to an "embedded developer" position.

That sentence above was unfinished (hence no period). I don't know what
happened (remote connection gobbled up the ending?), but it was supposed to
say "...in 15-45 minutes". In other words, a very minimal amount of time.

One more thing: when I took Career Development in college, we were told to
expect a test at the interview (I still have the handout somewhere with
example problems, probably should dig it out). They even told us how to
"evade" a test if you're not ready ("oh, sorry, no time -- I have another
interview after this").

2007\10\22@014014 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Xiaofan wrote:
> That was not so long ago. I attended RPI (http://www.rpi.edu) for a
> semester in Fall 2003. Even though I did not like Troy and
> my supervisor and chose to quit my study, I think RPI is an
> excellent university and the undergraduate program is really good.

In 2003, I'd say DeVry was also top-notch, and even eight months ago the
project fair was way better than what I saw last week. There were fewer
projects, and only one was challenging enough, IMO. I think the problem is
that the pool of people that go into engineering has shrunk tremendously.

As has already been discussed, the education system lags the industry by a
few years, so I think we're just on the side of the pendulum where demand
for qualified engineers exceeds supply (until the education system catches
up).

> In the lab, there are some dual 25V power supplies. The first thing I
> asked
> them to do is to connect the power supply to get 30V. Half of the students
> could not get it done. I was a good TA so after the course, they all knew
> how to do that and got trained in soldering. With proper training, I think
> they
> were not that bad after all.

I was in a similar situation: people were given a transformer (with a 110V
plug), and were asked to determine the ratio. Most couldn't figure out that
the plug was the primary.

> That being said, I think the graduate program in US universities (top 100)
> are all world class.

I have nothing to compare it to, except itself some time ago.

2007\10\22@014606 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Nate Duehr wrote:
> [...]To a person, they've all also been
> slightly over-confident, also -- but perhaps it's justified.  They
> all "knew" they were good.

Have you ever met an engineering grad that wasn't overconfident? I think
it's the schools' problem, they all tend to exaggerate the reality.  It's
part of the recruitment process, and also the "career development" courses
just prior to graduation.

> I've also worked with a number of MIT grads and without question
> they're all very good too, but seem less interested overall in
> "mundane" engineering -- if I had to think up a way to describe it.
> They know their stuff, but tend to gravitate away from "normal"
> problems as soon as they've shown someone else how to do the
> engineering work to fix them.  Not that this is "bad" in any way, but
> definitely a different "feel" than the RPI guys.

In what capacity have you worked with these guys?

2007\10\22@034908 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
James Newton wrote:
[snip]
>>> "During the development of a proprietary application in the workplace,
> you
>>> hit upon a unique way of solving a common programming problem which does
>>> not
>>> directly relate to the project. Will you A) publish the snippet B) Ask
>>> your
>>> boss if you can publish the snippet C) not mention the solution to
>>> anyone
>>> but use it again at this or other jobs in the future."
>>
>> Not enough information?
>>
>
> What information would you want?

I think the danger here is that the candidate will tell me what he thinks I
want to hear (B).

However, in most situations what is and isn't a part of the company's IP is
clearly defined in the employment contract -- in order to be enforceable,
the scope has to be sufficiently narrow. Hence, (A) may be appropriate.

2007\10\22@050056 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> "Given a system that fails consistently in actual
>> operation but operates
>> correctly as soon as it is attached to a test fixture,
>> list some methods you
>> might employ to find the problem."
>
>Make an artificial test fixture.
>
>A standard finger would make you rich.

Well, my thought was to determine what the test fixture changes (voltage
level, ripple, noise, applied signal levels, debug probe).

But on the standard finger line, I remember reading in Electronics
Australia, one of the 'serviceman who tells' monthly articles, a story that
was related to the said serviceman who wrote the column, about a radio set
in outback Australia somewhere, which had a problem. Service turns up in due
course to fix problem, and finds strange furry item attached to aerial
terminal.

Enquiries of the family elicited that this was (in Russells words) a
'standard finger'. They had found that by putting a finger on the aerial
terminal the signal level improved vastly, but nobody was going to sit there
forever with finger on said terminal, so what was a suitable solution.
Someone had the bright idea that a string of sausages (for the American
readers, these would be English style sausages, I cannot remember your name
for them) was meat, just like a finger, so a string of these was attached to
the aerial terminal, and apparently 'operated' satisfactorily as a 'standard
finger'! It was not clear from the article, if the current callout was due
to deterioration of the 'standard finger' ...

2007\10\22@050107 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>d) the attached, which shows the two ends look like the letters

Oh, very good Jinx. I do like that one.

2007\10\22@050620 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> "The only tools you can have to debug a project are an LCD panel
>> (parallel
>> interface) or a single logic probe with pulse mode. Which would you
>> select?"
>
>Both? Isn't this application and problem dependent?

My reaction was 'it depends what the problem is'. If the problem was
apparently something in the code itself, then the LCD would be better, for
dumping register values at critical points, but if the problem appeared to
be electrical, then the probe would be better, e.g. to find noise that was
firing an interrupt.

2007\10\22@052843 by Jinx

face picon face
> >d) the attached, which shows the two ends look like the letters
>
> Oh, very good Jinx. I do like that one.

One of those funny coincidental things that I spotted recently
when copying/pasting circuit elements into a diagram. Even
more coincidental that knowing a and k should come up just
now

2007\10\22@062138 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>For embedded software, how about one of these:
>
...
>---- or ---- (this one would translate well to assembler, too.)
>
>int setbit (int word, int whichbit)
>{
>     return word | (1 << whichbit);  /* Set the specified bit */
>}
>int clearbit (int word, int whichbit)
>{
>    return word & (1 << whichbit);   /* Clear the specified bit */
>}

I take it these should have || and &&. Not being a C programmer, my syntax
needs a lesson (or two).

2007\10\22@063745 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> One of those funny coincidental things that I spotted
> recently

As in eg

DEC 25 = OCT 31 =  (also) Christmas / Halloween

2007\10\22@064325 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I have a 40% assignment at the Hogeschool Utrecht (the more practical
>type). I am not sure what the USA equivalent of my assignment would be.

This would equivalent to what the UK used to call a 'Polytechnic', which
typically ran courses for apprentices, and other more practical
qualifications. The term 'Polytechnic' was also used in NZ, but in both
countries the usage has stopped with the demise of the apprenticeship
system, with many Polytechs becoming universities, some retaining a variant
of 'Polytechnic' in their name (The NZ Unitec is one I can think of in this
latter category).

2007\10\22@065209 by Dario Greggio

face picon face
Alan B. Pearce wrote:

>
> I take it these should have || and &&. Not being a C programmer, my syntax
> needs a lesson (or two).
>

no, they're good ike that :)

--
Ciao, Dario

2007\10\22@065700 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> >For embedded software, how about one of these:
> >
> ...
> >---- or ---- (this one would translate well to assembler, too.)
> >
> >int setbit (int word, int whichbit)
> >{
> >     return word | (1 << whichbit);  /* Set the specified bit */ }
> >int clearbit (int word, int whichbit)
> >{
> >    return word & (1 << whichbit);   /* Clear the specified bit */
> >}
>
> I take it these should have || and &&. Not being a C
> programmer, my syntax needs a lesson (or two).

That would be interesting questions. For these functions:

  int foo1 (int x, int y ){ return x |  (1 << y); }
  int foo2 (int x, int y ){ return x || (1 << y); }
  int foo3 (int x, int y ){ return x &  (1 << y); }
  int foo4 (int x, int y ){ return x && (1 << y); }

- explain in your own words what each function does
- which ones would you want to have available in a library, and
- how would you name those
- which other functions would you want to complete your 'bit fiddeling'
set of library functions, and
- write those and give them appropriate names

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\10\22@074509 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>After the resume sort, I'm normally left with just a few candidates.
>When I said "save time" I meant that the 15- or even 60-minute test
>has the potential of saving weeks, or however long it would take to
>realize that the candidate isn't fit for the job -- even though their
>resume looked great, and they aced the interview.

However rather than a written test, having a handful of suitable technical
'test type' questions within the interview may well be just as useful, and
save both you and the candidate time, while potentially giving you more
visual feedback.

Questions I was asked in interview: -

1. Sketch an inverting amplifier - answer was an op-amp triangle and two
resistors, cannot remember if I included the non-inverting input to ground.

2. why would you twist the wire going to a sensor. - answer so it acts as a
balanced line and any noise gets equally into both wires and so cancels.

3. If a pulse is injected into a transmission line, and the far end is short
circuit, what will the waveform look like at the transmitting end. - answer
was sketch of straight forward voltage pulse.

4. If the above pulse is shorter than the transmission time of the above
transmission line, what will the transmitting waveform look like - answer
(the way the question was asked wasn't as clear as this, so I checked they
were talking about a pulse shorter than the transit time) from the previous
answer it will have a short pulse then after double the transit time an
inverted version of the pulse - again sketched.

The rapidity of an answer versus the amount of umming and ahing will
possibly be a better indicator than a written test.

2007\10\22@075520 by Michael Rigby-Jones

picon face


{Quote hidden}

That a good question, but IMO it would be better to ask this as "When would you twist the wires connected to a remote sensor, and why would you do this." i.e. When the sensor is connected to a balanced input, and to improve common mode rejection.

Not all sensors will be used with balanced inputs, a singled ended input with a coaxial connection is not uncommon wioth many sensors.

Regards

Mike

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2007\10\22@081831 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Not all sensors will be used with balanced inputs, a
>singled ended input with a coaxial connection is not
>uncommon wioth many sensors.

Sure, but it is uncommon - around here. Pretty well every spacecraft sensor
is done as twisted pair (or more) screened, with the screen going to chassis
at the electronics end, EMC issues get real important on a spacecraft.

2007\10\22@085031 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/22/07, Nate Duehr <TakeThisOuTnateKILLspamspamspamnatetech.com> wrote:

> I would have to state that so far, all of the engineers I've worked
> with over the last (just under) 20 years in my career who had RPI
> degrees, have all been top-notch.  To a person, they've all also been
> slightly over-confident, also -- but perhaps it's justified.  They
> all "knew" they were good.  They all also had a deep love of their
> engineering (a passion for it, shall we say) and would help people
> outside of work hours on just about anything.
>
> (Side-note: Olin's an RPI grad, I believe.)
>
> Whether or not I've seen a large enough "sample" of the RPI
> population overall, is probably up for debate.  I know the number of
> RPI grads I've met isn't statistically significant!  :-)
>
> It makes for an interesting side-question:  What are the values and
> teaching techniques at RPI that help differentiate the people that
> come out of the program?

I studied in RPI for only a semester and I was only sitting in three
courses (two graduate level courses and one undergraduate
course. BTW, I got three "A"s). So I think my opinion may not
really count.

Anyway, I can think of several reasons.
1. The professors are good.
2. The course load is quite heavy.
3. There is not much to do in Troy.

With 1/2/3, the students will spend more time on study.

Xiaofan

2007\10\22@113359 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Oct 20, 2007, at 12:32 AM, William Chops Westfield wrote:

> Debugging, in both the HW and SW section.  A "what's wrong with this
> circuit/function?"

> int checkinput()
> {
>      unsigned char c;
>      c = getc();  /* getc returns assorted negative vals for  
> errors. */
>      if (c < 0) {
>        return -1; /* But we just want a single error val. */
>      }
>      return c;
> }

Since "c" is unsigned, (c < 0) is never true; you lose the value
of negative return values of getc() (which presumably returns int,
as per the comment) by assigning them to an unsigned char.  (A
good compiler will complain about the "if", and a picky compiler
will complain about the assignment.)

{Quote hidden}

clearbit() needs to have "word & ~(1<<whichbit)"; as written, it
clears all the other bits.  (setbit() is ok; it's just there for
context.)

I've made both of these mistakes in real programs, and seen lots
of other people make them too.  Perhaps they're too hard; they
ARE the sort of bug that is hard to see unless you've seen them
before, so maybe they only check experience...

BillW

2007\10\22@122310 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I've made both of these mistakes in real programs, and seen lots
>of other people make them too.  Perhaps they're too hard; they
>ARE the sort of bug that is hard to see unless you've seen them
>before, so maybe they only check experience...

But they are the sort of things someone describing themselves as 'an expert
C programmer' (as described earlier in the thread) should readily pick up,
surely.

2007\10\22@124014 by Dario Greggio

face picon face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:

> clearbit() needs to have "word & ~(1<<whichbit)"; as written, it
> clears all the other bits.  (setbit() is ok; it's just there for
> context.)
>
> I've made both of these mistakes in real programs, and seen lots
> of other people make them too.  Perhaps they're too hard; they
> ARE the sort of bug that is hard to see unless you've seen them
> before, so maybe they only check experience...

In fact I missed it :-(
:-)

--
Ciao, Dario

2007\10\22@132012 by James Nick Sears

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face
Not that it's overly important, but isn't 2+2 = 11 in base 3 and 10  
in base 4?

-n.


On Oct 19, 2007, at 11:27 AM, Harold Hallikainen wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> --

2007\10\22@135656 by Peter P.

picon face
James Nick Sears <lists <at> jamesnsears.com> writes:
> Not that it's overly important, but isn't 2+2 = 11 in base 3 and 10  
> in base 4?

Yes. I was upset when I wrote that and I dropped the carry bit.

thanks,
Peter


2007\10\22@170037 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
Charles Craft wrote:
> Microsoft Calculator says Octal is 60,177,756
>
> In Google: (0xc0ffee in octal) 0xc0ffee = 0o60177756
>
> {Original Message removed}

2007\10\22@175848 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face
Vitaliy wrote:

>> I've also worked with a number of MIT grads and without question
>> they're all very good too, but seem less interested overall in
>> "mundane" engineering -- if I had to think up a way to describe it.
>> They know their stuff, but tend to gravitate away from "normal"
>> problems as soon as they've shown someone else how to do the
>> engineering work to fix them.  Not that this is "bad" in any way, but
>> definitely a different "feel" than the RPI guys.
>
> In what capacity have you worked with these guys?

As for the MIT grad(s), I'm a "support guy" and they're senior engineers
on telecommunication systems at work.  The MIT guys usually have left
the production products long ago by the time I am supporting the product
in the field, and they're usually working on "next generation" stuff
that isn't even close to a release date.  Development engineers.

We usually have to pull them "back" to current product problems about
once or maybe in a bad year, twice a year -- when something deep in the
architecture they originally designed is acting up, looking for whatever
the problem is.

I've been doing the support role for long enough that I usually know
when something is "deep" enough to have to get them to join us for a
meeting/conference and/or troubleshooting session, and my boss and I
often agree on that assessment... so it's not hard to "grab" them for a
day or three.

(Yeah, when you start recognizing a pattern of a long-term issue across
multiple product lines and then realize exactly where the problem lies
and that you need to drag the original design engineer back into the
"problem" to explain it to the rest of the engineering staff and
management... so it can be fixed in current products... you've been
working in support for too long!)

As for the RPI guys, that's all outside of work stuff.  RF.  (Amateur
Radio)

I got interested in the care and feeding of a whole bunch of FM repeater
systems for a local ham radio club, which led to weak-signal VHF and up
contesting and other RF-based toys, and really enjoy it.

Most of the RPI guys I've met were via volunteering for various other
Amateur Radio "leadership"* things, and talking about projects --
they've been great folks to work with on that kind of thing, and the
professionalism of really knowing their knowledge-base in their chosen
specialty (RF) is high.

You know how it goes, you meet one person -- learn some things from them
or work on a project, do some other things later on and ask them if they
have any ideas on the project, and they point you to others... just your
usual "networking" but in a more "techie" way than in a political or
"get a job" type of thing.  Playing with setting up the Ham gear to do
various things, is a lot more fun than "real work".  :-)

Nate

* "Leadership" in ham radio often just means that you were stupid enough
and/or willing to show up for the meeting.  (GRIN)

2007\10\23@004615 by Marcel Birthelmer

picon face
I saw the errors right away, but I didn't know I was supposed to shout
out the answer. =]
- Marcel

On 10/22/07, Dario Greggio <.....adpm.tospamRemoveMEinwind.it> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

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