Ann, when I was designing appliances I would sit down with the marketing guys and have them press buttons on a sheet of paper. I would have them step through the keystrokes needed to implement what they had specified, and often times their fingers were doing a dance that looked like a version of "Twister" made for hands. If the feature they wanted proved too complicated they would sometimes add a special button or knob just for that feature. From their standpoint, now the nifty new feature was advertised because the consumer would see that feature button right on the front panel.
I don't understand why the industry can't realize that the american consumer just wants something that is easy to run. I really don't need 17 different cycles to wash my clothes in. I do want to be able to lock it out so my child doesn't accidently run the cat through the wash, but I don't have a PHD in unlocking my washing machine. Is it really that tough.
Buttons and options can be difficult. On our GE front loader, a certain button combination will lock the control panel. Unfortunately, this option is not shown in the manual and required a service call by a technician to show me how to reset the lock.
A friend of mine was visiting another guy one saturday morning and his friend remarked that his power bill was about zero the month before. My friend (a EE) said they should check to see if the meter was turning. Sure enough a moth had expired and was stuck in the meter works. My friend banged his hand on the meter and the bug fell out as the home owner screemed "OH No".
I recall the issue of the fire ants, notarboca. Some time in the last 20 years, a linear accelerator was planned for Texas (I believe it was eventually built there), but it ended up getting bogged down in debate about fire ants. Apparently, some engineers believed that the accelerator's large magnets would attract ants.
Having once worked repairing computers in the back woods of Papua New Guinea, I can attest to the fact that "Raid Kills Computers Dead!". A client had a colony of ants take up residence in his computer, entering and exiting through the ventilation holes. He gave them a shot of Raid through the vent holes and left it to air out. The next time he powered up, all the magic smoke escaped from the computer. In due course I received the remains (of both the computer and the ants). At least this particular variety of Raid was both conductive and corrosive and did a real number on the PCB.
This is a known issue with GE branded ovens. I had the exact same beeping and strange issues a couple years ago. The fix is has become famous as many thousands of folks have fixed their oven with a couple simple pieces of paper. In my case the paper fix did not fix the errors and a new front panel was required to eliminate the beeping. The timer board was just fine - only the tactile feedback button assembly.
In this case the bugs were likely just an additional added distraction. Normally bug bodies do not become conductive unless the voltage is high enough. I've had A/C units not start from wasp bodies shorting across the run cap!
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.