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For anyone involved in supporting customers of any non-trivial commercial software product, it is very important to understand the distinction between a product demo and product training.

Ideally, demos are pre-sales and training is post-sales. Read the rest of this entry »


There’s a difference between following the spirit of the law, and following the letter of the law. There’s a difference between being meticulously thorough, and CYA. There’s a difference between meeting the customer requirement, and meeting the customer specification. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most important tasks for an instructor in a classroom setting is to gain credibility with the students, and one of the simplest things an instructor can do to help himself in this regard is to dress appropriately. Of course, one must dress in a businesslike manner, but “appropriate” means different things to different audiences. This is especially true with an audience of engineers. An instructor dressed “too well” looks like someone from marketing. If you walk into the room in a shirt and tie, you must earn your credibility. For an engineering audience, a polo shirt and Dockers is almost an unofficial uniform. Dress right, and credibility is yours to loose.

What purpose could be served by teaching rudimentary technology basics to non-technical employees? What good does it do for HR or finance employees to understand what a transistor is? In short, one must accept pretty much on faith that knowing where your paycheck comes from is good for morale. If one accepts that employees deserve a layman’s explanation for financial results, it is not too great a stretch to conclude that they also deserve a layman’s explanation for the technology that is the basis for those financial results. There is also a benefit to the trainer, especially one who normally teaches only other engineers and assumes a high level of background knowledge in doing so. Occasionally examining our hidden assumptions is a healthy thing for anyone.

There are three kinds of students in corporate education. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I call them learners, vacationers, and prisoners. Read the rest of this entry »