Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Twelve Truths In Engineering

This was originally published as an April Fool's Day RFC, but I thought it was relevant to all of us who do geeky things.


The Fundamental Truths

   (1)  It Has To Work.

   (2)  No matter how hard you push and no matter what the priority,
        you can't increase the speed of light.

        (2a) (corollary). No matter how hard you try, you can't make a
             baby in much less than 9 months. Trying to speed this up
             *might* make it slower, but it won't make it happen any

   (3)  With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. However, this is
        not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they
        are going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them
        as they fly overhead.

   (4)  Some things in life can never be fully appreciated nor
        understood unless experienced firsthand. Some things in
        networking can never be fully understood by someone who neither
        builds commercial networking equipment nor runs an operational

   (5)  It is always possible to aglutenate multiple separate problems
        into a single complex interdependent solution. In most cases
        this is a bad idea.

   (6)  It is easier to move a problem around (for example, by moving
        the problem to a different part of the overall network
        architecture) than it is to solve it.

        (6a) (corollary). It is always possible to add another level of

   (7)  It is always something

        (7a) (corollary). Good, Fast, Cheap: Pick any two (you can't
            have all three).

   (8)  It is more complicated than you think.

   (9)  For all resources, whatever it is, you need more.

       (9a) (corollary) Every networking problem always takes longer to
            solve than it seems like it should.

   (10) One size never fits all.

   (11) Every old idea will be proposed again with a different name and
        a different presentation, regardless of whether it works.

        (11a) (corollary). See rule 6a.

   (12) In protocol design, perfection has been reached not when there
        is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take


  1. Most of those are applicable to any situation. Reminds me of Churchill's observation that "you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing ... after they've tried everything else."

  2. All true... and not just for networks... :-)

  3. A long time ago I had an article from EETimes back when they were just a little 'rag' newspaper called "The Ten Things They Never Teach You In EE School".

    It was hilarious, but the only one I remember to this day is "There are AT LEAST 50 different kinds of capacitors, all with the same capacitance and voltage rating".

  4. Yeah, there's a few I'd add, and it has a definite network bias, but it's excellent.


Keep it civil, please....