Werner Almesberger werner at
Mon Apr 6 03:58:35 CEST 2009

Steve Mosher wrote:
> hardware world. I'll use another metaphor. Building hardware  requires
> a "waterfall" design process, at least in my experience. In the software 
> world, outside of DOD and NASA, we'd be hard pressed to find projects
> that followed a strict waterfall model.

Hmm, I think one risk of having a "heavy" development process is
that everyone tries to cram all their pet ideas into the project
like there's no tomorrow. And yes, I have to plead guilty there
as well :-(

I think a useful compromise would be a rigid process from design
to prototype or product, but the ability to start such processes
in rapid succession.

A lot of problems in the GTA01/GTA02 design were only found after
they hit end-users. Instead of bickering for half a year about
buzz fixes, wouldn't it have been easier in the end if we had
just been able to start a new design, with the necessary changes,
but only them ?

This isn't of course something you just decide and it's done.
You have to design the company/organization around such an idea.
E.g., don't produce at a factory that could spit out a million of
units a week but that takes three months to get rolling.

> minimum, plus a redesign. Take the appendix out--perform a glamoectomy?
> ask Werner about the design implications of that on WIFI.

>From (painful) memory: Half a month of getting a straight answer
from the vendor whether the chip can do it, about two weeks of
figuring out how to best rearrange that whole software stack such
that the problem becomes solveable, a few days of implementation,
well above a month to find out why that perfect plan didn't work,
followed by a few more days of working around the silicon bugs
eventually discovered. Ah yes, and when it was done, it didn't get
used :-(

When assessing the complexity of a problem, we tend to see only
those few days of actual development, not those months of
unexpected consequences.

> The OM designs all used "modules" for GSM and modules for things like
> WIFI and BT as opposed to "down" designs or chips on PCBs. The diffculty
> is not in finding components or modules

Famous last words ;-) I'd humbly submit that it can be incredibly
painful to find certain components if you're not a really big
player. And sometimes, one has to use components that aren't even
designed for phones, which creates its own set of problems.

>   The voting approach will be discussed. Basically I dont believe in 
> letting idiots vote.

In Linux, we have the concept of "benevolent dictators" ;-)

Very nice and insightful post. Thanks !

- Werner

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