Gas station without pumps

2019 December 8

Book Done!

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:06
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I’ve posted the latest version of the book—the first version I think of as really completed, so I’m calling it Edition 1.0.

The book is available at https://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics/ now, but I won’t raise the price until Tuesday, as I announced last week.  I’ve already sent the students registered for the course coupons for a free book, and they have started picking it up.

The new book takes up 28.7MB and has

651 pages
335 figures
13 tables
509 index entries
155 references

The chapter on Design Report Guidelines is available free at https://leanpub.com/design_report_guidelines. If your students need some advice on writing from an engineering professor, this document may be of more use to them than many longer texts.

2019 December 4

$1000 royalties!

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:51
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I’ve finally earned $1000 in royalties on my textbook!  Thank you to all my purchasers—especially those who chose to pay more than the required minimum.

Incidentally, the royalties come to a little more than the expenses I’ve incurred in developing the labs for the book, but it’s a good thing that I have a salary and could use sabbatical time to write the book, as the royalties come to less than 50¢ an hour of writing (probably more like 20¢ an hour, once expenses are taken into account).

2019 December 3

Applied Analog Electronics price increase coming soon

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:18
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I’m about 3 days behind my original schedule, but I have now cleared all the to-do notes out of my draft of Applied Analog Electronics.  It will be ready to release when I have run the 62 \LaTeX files through a spelling checker and have gone through and checked all the page breaks, figure placements, figure sizing, and overfull hboxes.  I expect this to take me 2–3 days, but I’m allowing myself up to a week to complete the task.

I’ll be increasing the minimum price for the textbook from $5.99 to $7.99 on 2019 December 10, when I’ll be releasing the new version of the book.  Students registered for BME 51A will be getting a coupon for a free PDF of the book at that time also.

Because Leanpub purchases entitle buyers to all future drafts of the book published through Leanpub, those of you who have already bought the book (even with a free coupon) can get the updated electronic copy for free.

Those of you who are still thinking of buying the book can get it cheaper if you buy it now, then get the free update when it is released.  The URL for purchases is https://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics

 

2019 October 18

Book progress update

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:33
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At the beginning of the summer, I set myself the goal to clear the 161 to-do notes from the draft of my book by the first of December, which meant doing about 1 a day.  I kept up for quite a while, but I am now a little behind schedule, with 48 to-do notes left, which would have me finishing on December 5, if I maintained one a day. The book is now 637 pages, with 315 images in 256 figures (many have subfigures).  I think I may be done adding figures, but the remaining to-do notes include adding a few pages of text (which may or may not increase the page count for the overall book, depending of how much white space there is at the end of the relevant chapters).

I was keeping pretty well to schedule over the summer, but I fell behind during the Santa Cruz Shakespeare trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. The trip was worth the time—I saw six plays: two very good (La Comedia of Errors and All’s Well That Ends Well), one well-acted but with a bit of a thin script (Mother Road), one well-acted but with awkward sets and strange direction that did not really work (Macbeth), one interesting but deliberately uncomfortable play (Between Two Knees), and one awful production (As You Like It) that failed in almost every way.  The original script for As You Like It is good, but the director managed to mangle it by rearranging speeches, assigning them to the wrong characters, cutting excessively, and generally making a hash of it. Gender roles were randomly reassigned, the wrestling match was played for laughs (like a video game), Touchstone was played very stiffly, and Jaques was changed from a melancholy character into a giddy one.  The costuming was also poor—I felt very sorry for the actors having to put up with such a poor interpretation of the play.

I’m on leave this quarter, so I don’t have to teach, go to meetings, or hold office hours, but I’m taking a physics course (PHYS 102, which is an introduction to quantum mechanics).  The homework for the physics class has been taking quite a bit of time, and I have been prioritizing it over the book writing. I brought my laptop with me on the Ashland trip, but I didn’t do any writing for the book—I finished the first homework for the physics class instead, as it was due the day after we came back.  Today I finished homework 3 for the physics class (due Monday), so I should work on the book this weekend.  Maybe I can get back on schedule? (Or maybe I’ll try mowing more of the back lawn—I’ve cleared about a quarter of it.  Creative Procrastination!)

I’ve also been wasting a lot of time reading news, humor, and a few subreddits on the internet—the physics class is only taking about 15 hours a week, so I can’t really blame the class for my being behind schedule on the book.

2019 February 15

Why do I write?

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:56
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O Why Do You Write? Charles French asks

I have a question for all you out  there who write, and that includes writers of books, poetry, plays, nonfiction, and blogs. If I left out any kind of writing, you are included also.

Why do you write?

I wrote my textbook Applied Analog Electronics because I was creating a course for which I could find no suitable textbook. I wanted a college-level introduction to electronics that was focused on designing things, not on applied math. I don’t have an objection to math (there is plenty in my textbook), but I wanted it to be there to solve a particular design problem, not just with sterile exercises. The central theme of the book had to be iterative engineering with design, construction, and debugging of interesting circuits, with almost everything else as support for that activity.

All I could find on the market either delayed design until the third or fourth course (which seems to be the standard approach in EE departments) or was very hand-holding—telling students exactly what to wire and leaving no electronics design to the students.

When I started the book writing, I already had a fairly thorough set of lab handouts and felt that the book would be a simple rewrite with a bit of additional material. Boy, was I wrong!

The book has taken over much of my life (when I’m not teaching the course from it or grading student work) for the past few years. I had a “finished” draft at the beginning of January, but students in my class have pointed out about 170 problems with it, and they are only halfway through the book. A lot of the problems were tiny copy-editing things (commas, spaces, spelling errors), but some were substantive. I have about 50 to-do notes accumulated for me to work on this summer.

I think that this year’s students have been motivated to find errors by the token amount I pay for each error found (25¢) and by the “leaderboard” on Piazza, where I keep track of what I owe each student. To encourage more feedback, I try to be generous in allocating the quarters—something doesn’t have to be a real mistake, if I agree that the wording can be improved or something needs to be rewritten for clarity or completeness.  Students can ask questions about something they don’t understand, and if that triggers a specific idea for a change to the book, I give credit for that also.  (Having question-triggered corrections means that even students at the bottom of the class can get credit for book corrections.)

The question of why I write on this blog is a harder one.  Sometimes I am trying to share something I learned, sometimes I’m asking for help finding a solution to a problem, sometimes I’m motivating myself by making something public (like my weight and exercise records), sometimes I’m just thinking out loud (like many of my posts about the design of my course).  I’d like to say that I blog for the social connections, but so few people respond to my posts that I can’t really pretend even to myself that I am having a conversation.

I think that a few of my posts have been valued (at least Google thinks enough of them for people to come to them with searches), so I have some incentive to keep on writing.

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