Friday, December 09, 2016

Why do you have to go and make things so Complicated




Avril: Complicated

Subtitle:  Reflections upon Complexity


I don't think it is just being particular, but Agata and Marcus come from a Generation and an Engineering background when understanding, well everything, was vitally important.

As a Computer Guy, Marcus would say that if I did not understand how my computer started in detail, or how it's Electronics actually worked, well it would sort of be a travesty.

Thinking back, at the end of a college lecture I had always asked enough questions to fully understand everything before leaving  (sometimes at severe risk from colleagues, eager to leave, who would however be using my course notes later when they had no clue)

But these days complexity really reigns, and I mean most times necessarily.  I am not talking about bad design.  I mean for example that the Xeon processor in my computer contains 7 billion transistors.  You could not build it with 1000.

I'd gripe that today however that people fequently use the Complexity argument as a first pass reason why they /just don't know/ and /don't need to know/.

In times gone by if we did not understand something, we could

- Ask a friend
- Dismantle It
- Attach an Oscilloscope
- Use the Internet or the Forums that came before it
- Read a Book

And we would keep going until we figured it out.  This is what practicioners do until they become rounded experts.  I have expert Car friends who can do the same in their sphere,  and Biologists and Physicists who can reason through their specialities. Why?  Because they have a broad and deep knowledge of their field that further peaks in their particular speciality.

Outside of the realm of Science the most common reason to justify /not to know/ stems from the Religious argument toward ignorance:  This is:  


God said it, I believe it, that settles it


And so if God never said it, this covering all of modern mathematics, and all Computer Science, and all Electronics some religious friends today have honestly told me: well it just can't be important. Hmm.

This past week in my debugging of not EFI booting I've been further learning more about the boot process and how the BIOS parameters in a computer system can influence it.   Just the smallest fraction of the available configuration screens:










Before twiddling

 After twiddling

Still no booting but convincingly faster!



Necessary Specialisation
I'd also comment on the worrying trend of silo specialisation.  I mean expertise but in a very [very]  narrow field.  You might know a lot about Computer BIOS and Compatibility.  But if somebody asked you about Mobile Phone Firmware, or Kernel Programming, or Typical voltage levels, you would not only be clueless, but critically  you would not have the baseline knowledge to ask friends or Uncle Google enough to learn, read and understand enough to get up to speed.

Specialisation should not be an excuse for total ignorance in your wider field.



Summary
On the plus side, I have learnt a lot this week.  But I am now at the point on the build of the new Workstation that I simply want things to work please.


Links
How does UEFI booting work