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Learning Strategies


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This course is intended to throw application software developers into a modestly deep course on hardware and embedded concepts. As such, there can be a lot of obstacles to get past before feeling comfortable with the subject matter.

Imposter Syndrome

Things like imposter syndrome and a sense of feeling under qualified to even start are common. Everyone feels this way from time to time. Trying out a hardware job as a software engineer was how I learned most of this material.

How The Brain Processes Information

Your subconscious uses the information you consume to make conclusions (i.e. solve problems). Your conscious self merely spends all of its time convincing itself whether the subconscious is correct or not. The key takeaway here is that you shouldn't worry so much about not understanding a subject right away. Instead, just try to consume as much of the information as possible and then give your subconscious time to digest that information.

Cargo Culting

During this course we're going to be showing some processes to accomplish various tasks. These are by no means the only way to accomplish the same tasks, its merely the way that I think of the problem while I work through potential solutions. The key advice I have is to not do my way just because its the only way you've seen. There is a thing called Cargo Culting, and its definitely something to avoid if something doesn't make sense while engineering solutions. describes Cargo Cult as:

A cargo cult is a millenarian belief system in which adherents perform rituals which they believe will cause a more technologically advanced society to deliver goods.

Put another way, some one "Cargo culting" is someone who is performing rituals without knowing why they exist in the first place. IMO, This happens so often in organizations that its likely the key reason for process bloat. I once asked an individual responsible for drafting the organization's test plan template, why some of the sections existed. They visibly showed that they were irritated and ended up justifying the sections by indicating that its something that other organizations had done in their experience. The take away is that this individual was cargo culting "how to perform testing".

A more light hearted cargo cult story I've been told before involves ritual cooking at Thanksgiving. There once was a lady that learned how to cook a turkey from her grandmother when she was young. One of the steps that her grandmother taught her granddaughter to do was to cut off one end of the turkey. For the next 30 years, the granddaughter would cut off the end of the turkey until one day her own daughter asked "Why do you cut off the end of the turkey?". Only then did the lady become more curious. When the lady phoned her grandmother at the nursing home to ask why she cut off the end of the turkey every Thanksgiving, the grandmother responded, "So that it would fit in my small oven!".