Posted by bob on July 8, 2019

  1. There is an old joke that half of all emergency room visits are preceded by the words, “Hey guys, watch this!”
  2. Likewise, I think that about half of all technological progress comes about because somebody wanted to impress their coworkers (or their friends or their imaginary friends online).

I believe it is extremely important to stay out of the first group above, but never stop trying to be in the second group.

When I ran my own company, or managed engineering teams, I would prioritize safety. It just does not make sense to get injured from careless or reckless behavior. Very few of us work on projects that are so important that they are worth losing life or limb.

Team members are counting on you. Removing yourself from the team (permanently or temporarily) does not help you and does not help them. It also hurts the project and the organization. In a very real way, you might also be harming your customer and their customers.

I have recently found myself watching numerous YouTube videos by Big Clive. If you don’t know this engineering Video Blogger, he is worth the commitment of some of your time.

YouTube channel:

Clive’s website is:

I recently discovered a (year) 2016 post by Clive that really emphasized safety. In one section, he showed how to make a two-handed safety switch to help assure that you were not touching a high-voltage surface when power was applied. One critical point he made was that surfaces we normally would consider to be insulating and safe, can conduct significant current in the presence of very high voltages.

Direct Link to embedded post above:

Clive often shows the safety defects in low-cost electronics. He also shows good (safe) lab practice in his use of various test disconnect switches and careful AC wiring.

He is also one of my favorite technology bloggers because he uses simple tools to document his reverse-engineering efforts. His techniques for hand-drawn schematic diagrams and enlarged photographic prints should be taught in engineering schools everywhere.

Switching subjects a bit, the European “demoscene” community grew up around the concept of programmers demonstrating (“demo-ing”) their artistic and technical skills for their peers and admirers. ( )

I believe that doing demos relates quite well to the “Hey guys, watch this…” sentiment that most engineers harbor somewhere in their soul. Getting admired for your skills and artistry is excellent; getting mourned for a fatal mistake is much less desirable.

The next time you are about to rush into an experiment or try to impress your friends or colleagues, take a moment and consider if there are any outcomes you might be missing. Look for warning signs and heed them. We are all depending on you being with us to help solve some difficult problems.