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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 is a recommended procedure on personal computers called “defragmenting.” What follows is a layman’s description of how a hard drive works and why defragmenting is important. Read the rest of this entry »

A reader named Anand suggested diagrams for the scan test basics article. I’m happy to oblige. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m currently doing some training development with Faizul Alam of Catalyte IC Design. The modules I’m working on are Introduction to DFT (Design for Test), Advanced LinkedIn topics, plus a possible resurrection of my Semiconductors for Non-Engineers seminar. I’ll be releasing more information here as things progress. Read the rest of this entry »

I have posted on my personal website a one hour long video version of the “Technology Basics” series of articles already posted on this blog. I’ve run into some more problems with my laptop, so I’ve been unable to completely review the video. I would welcome feedback.

No, I haven’t given up blogging. I’ve been trying for the past several days to re-create recorded versions of some of my “Technology Basics” lectures, including animated PowerPoint, using a tool called Camtasia, which I’ve used before. I’m a few days into the free 30-day trial, but I’ve had trouble getting the tool to save my work. I can record seemingly trouble-free as long as I want, but if I go too long, the tool simply fails to save with no indication that anything has gone wrong. This is, to say the least, quite frustrating. I’m going to keep trying.

Addendum, June 15, 2009: After doing some hardware and software repair (new hard drive, OS fix), I did get Camtasia to run and record everything I needed, but I was not able to use the picture-in-picture preview feature. Using that feature resulted in the behavior described. The file would not save and PowerPoint crashed after the fact.

In this posting, I will revisit the topic of analogies and explore how to create them. To begin creating an analogy, first reduce the target phenomenon to basic principles. Then find another, more familiar phenomenon with similar basic principles. Read the rest of this entry »

Computer simulations, such as those used in the design of semiconductor integrated circuits, make it possible to design these circuits at a reasonable cost, but like all simulations they have their limitations. One of the most important things to realize about computer simulations it that they cannot predict success; they can only predict failure. A simulation that “passes” actually fails to predict a failure, and the best that can be said is that possible failure modes covered by the simulation have been eliminated. The more detailed the simulation, the more failure modes can be covered, but the longer the simulation takes to run.¬† If the level of detail is too great for the size of the design, the model won’t fit into the computer memory at all. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the most memorable learning tools a course designer can create is a good analogy. Finding parallels between something the student finds mysterious and something else the student finds obvious is more art than science. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke the other night on Sixty Minutes made a wonderful analogy between bailing out a misbehaving bank and fighting a fire in your neighbor’s house even though it was caused by his own blatant carelessness, given that the fire could spread to your house and indeed to half the town. Another well-known analogy can be drawn between electricity and water in a pipe, where voltage and current are likened to water pressure and water volume. I have been able to come up with a number of good analogies over the years, but I am currently at a loss to explain how to do it or even where to begin other than inspiration. I invite comments regarding your thoughts on how to create good analogies or examples of other good analogies.

Probably the most important thing to do when designing a training course is to determine whether or not there will be any “hands on” exercises. It’s best if there are; the most effective learning is by doing, not by seeing or listening. Read the rest of this entry »