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Terminology and Documentation issues ... not only here!


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Have been watching/listening to the STS-119 shuttle mission to the ISS (International Space Station) .... what a bit of a riot. Somewhat relating to Miss Betsy's suggested "back yard mechanic" scenario ....

Complaint: Packaged labled //whatever// could not be found .. needed to replace the batteries for a box that was running an experiment .... storage bays had been searched, other places searched, load, transport, unload lists had been looked at .. no sign of that package .... 20 or so minutes later, ground control advised that the package could not be found on the ISS because it was still sitting on the ground ... (at the time, STS-119 was still about 65 miles away from docking .)

Complaint: Procedures witten for removing the cover from a box housing some other control devices were bad .... The Phillips #1 bit doesn't work very well on these TORX screws .. I have no idea which size TORX bit I'm using as they aren't labeled very well, I just found one that works ... .... after screws were removed, another problem ran into ... assumption is that "while on the ground" the cover plate simply dropped down bue to its weight ... this poor guy is searching all over for the scew that isn't documented and can't be seen, because the cover only somewhat flips ip, but will not 'come off' .... he pulls up one of those famous "Swiss Army knives" amd eventually finds a blade to his liking, and he starts hacking away to remove some foam. Tirns out that the foam was being held in place by the flanged bit of the cover plate, which was finally discovered when he tried shifting his grip on the cover and it slid down, basically then detaching itself from the box. The piece of foam was now nothing more than "spare parts" to be shipped back on the shuttle.

Complaint: After a 3/4 of an hour search, looking for items with identifying labels, part numbers, etc. that were supposed to be packed in a cetrtain bag, within a certain pouch, within a certain box, within a certain wrapped container ..... OK, I'm sorting it out now .... all the stuff that's identified by a specific name, like PWD Adatopr kit and LURE Adaptor kit, have all been shoved into a single bag labled "Sampler kit" ..... is that right? ... ground control, minutes later ... Yes, that's correct.

Complaint: I'm looking at the manual, I'm looking at the box .... just which corner is the "top right" corner? .... much time and conversation spent between him and ground control trying to come up with a way to better identify the coordinates of that location, so that the rest of the conversation could go much smoother <g>

Per Miss Betsy's analogy, some of these have in fact come up with my own shade tree mechanic work .... not having the right tools, the manuals having wrong data, and the infamous "manual says left side .. is that facing the front of the car or from the driver's seat?" ... the 'spare parts' left over when 'done' usually a bad indication that something wasn't replaced correctly <g>

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You guys may recall the Mars probe that crashed ignominiously several years ago. Seems that Lockheed Martin was teaming with JPL for a critical portion of the mission control; LM (being a good aviation company) measured altitude in feet, while JPL measured it in meters, hence the accident. A friend of mine was working for LM at the time, and as a joke posted a sign outside his cube reading "1ft = .3048m." Management asked him to take it down.

-- rick

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...A friend of mine was working for LM at the time, and as a joke posted a sign outside his cube reading "1ft = .3048m." Management asked him to take it down.
JPL = 'science', LM = 'engineering', the interface is never a happy place, the respective 'sides' having typically spent their undergraduate years sniping at each other, their postgraduate years carefully ignoring each other and their professional careers on thankfully divergent paths (usually).

This is how to tell a scientist from normal people (not sure if engineers can be so characterized, but ...) http://xkcd.com/242/

This is how engineers function - http://xkcd.com/277/

Your friend gravely misjudged the engineer's capacity for humor (very low) and its style. That is more like http://xkcd.com/253/ This is the real engineers' conversion chart http://xkcd.com/526/

There are probably better vehicles for the exploration of the human condition (and the interaction with technology in particular) than a collection of stick-figure cartoons but few would be as much fun. http://xkcd.com/293/

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