To relax, I occasionally read a web site which talks ironically about basketball. It is called “La giornata tipo“, “the typical day” in English. Many of the articles you can find there describe hypothetical average days of basketball teams and players. These hypothetical days are littered with invented facts that exacerbate the flaws of the persons they talk about to make fun of them and to create hilarious situations. The title of this post is a sort of tribute to that amusing site.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a tough day at work. This was due to the fact that I had to deal with several problems. What I found particularly challenging is not the number of issues I had to face in the space of one day, but the fact that they were extremely different in nature. This is a brief—but not exhaustive—list of what I had to cope with.

  • During the morning, I had a two-hours conference call with an important customer operating in the building automation market. We talked about several topics, such as the long term maintenance of the embedded Linux distribution running on the products we developed for him. Furthermore, the possible strategies to implement the over-the-air upgrades, once the products will be installed on the field.
  • Right after the call, I paid a visit to another client that manufactures industrial machines for which we designed a custom system fueled by a highly-customized version of the Android operating system. He was facing a severe problem related to the electrolytic corrosion of some parts of this product. Although this issue had nothing to do with the electronic board we designed, he appreciated the fact that we were glad to help to analyze the problem and to find a solution.
  • In the early afternoon, I had another conference call with a third customer who manufactures automation systems. We discussed some details about the hardware features of a new product we are designing for it, a sort of network bridge used to interconnect the EtherCAT bus with any IO-Link sensor.
  • Last but not least, in the late afternoon, I spent a couple of hours studying some software-related subjects, namely JavaScript, Node.JS, and By the end of the month, in fact, I need to develop a prototype which makes use of a web application to remotely visualize in real-time the values of the samples collected by an industrial gateway which we sell to several customers.

As stated before, it is not easy to mentally jump from one issue to the other when the matters are so diversified. On the other hand, this is an intrinsic characteristic of the embedded systems, in the sense that they may be used for a myriad of different applications. That’s why the embedded systems engineering is so tough but fascinating and the same time.

If I think back to that day, I can state that it well represents my average day, which is the typical day of the embedded systems engineer.