RE: Engineering notebooks?

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From: Lisa Dusseault (
Date: Fri Dec 01 2000 - 11:36:09 PST

I definitely take notes: in a bound composition book if I'm away from my
computer, but in .txt format if I'm local. I have a bad memory. Text is my
memory. Unlike Jeff Barr, writing down the information doesn't necessarily
create the memory, so I do need to refer to notes.

Thoughts on keeping notes:
 - Heard bound books can be useful for legal reasons -- easy to see if pages
have been torn out. But how often does one get involved in that? Anyone
actually (not a FOAF) had to do this?
 - Love grep-able formats. "Now where did I write down those tricks for
installing winCVS & getting it to work with ssh?"
 - On the other hand, visual recognition skills help me find stuff in my
composition book. I flip through pages looking for diagrams, scribbled-out
pages, and things that I know ocurred before (in time) or after the thing
I'm looking for. These are landmarks that mean I usually very quickly find
what I know I wrote down.
 - Hate not being able to remember whether I put something in mail or in
.txt file. Wish I could search them together!

Thoughts on requiring engineering class members to keep notes:
 - Is this really something that engineering students have to be _taught_?
I would easily agree that engineers ought to be able to write
specifications, architecture descriptions, proposals, reports, etc. My
personal suggestion here, after talking to a couple eng'g profs about this,
would be to require eng'g majors to pass a written-communication challenge
exam or be required to pass an English course with basically the same exam.
 - Why should a lab notebook be a requirement for a course -- the course
presumably doesn't test or teach communication skills in general?
 - The value to the professor of this class might be different than the
value to the student. The value to the professor might be to find it easier
to check if the students actually did the work themselves, as opposed to
cheating in some way.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Whitehead []
> Sent: Friday, December 01, 2000 10:12 AM
> To: FoRK
> Subject: Engineering notebooks?
> Hi,
> I'm curious -- for FoRKs who areinvolved in Engineering of some form
> (hardware, software, etc.)what is your opinion on the use/value of
> maintaining an engineering lab notebook? I'm about to inherit a software
> engineering project class where there is currently a requirement for
> maintaining a lab notebook. However, I've never used an
> engineering project
> notebook, and I know relatively few software developers who do.
> I personally am more of a pad of paper person, although I have very rarely
> gone back into these pads after about, say 3 months. Email
> archives, on the
> other hand, I do consult fairly extensively.
> I suppose this quickly gets into the whole issue of personal information
> collection and archiving, across all forms of media (magazines, like Nat'l
> Geographic, are a good example -- people hold onto these magazines for
> years, despite having no good use for them, and the fact every public
> library in America has a complete set).
> - Jim

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