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Mike Buetow

Showing up might be 80% of life, but even that maxim can be stretched too far. 

Over lunch with a longtime industry friend last month, it was noted how the approach to work, or what passes for it, varies from region to region, sometimes comically so.

My friend was with his local team at the Southeast Asian headquarters of his employer. At one point well past 5 pm, he looked up to notice his colleagues were accumulating at an office window. Wondering what the attraction was, he strolled over and peered out with them.

They were looking to see whether their company president’s car was still there.

No matter that it was 8 o’clock at night and the staff had long since mentally checked out; no one was leaving until that car was gone.

Working late, it seems, wasn’t about actually “working,” but rather giving the appearance of being present – and dedicated – even if it was a complete act worthy of an Oscar.

As silly as that whole charade was, is pretending to work better or worse than never actually shutting down? The first casualty of smartphones was sleep. The second was sanity. No one takes work home anymore; they don’t have to. It follows them wherever they go. In the 24/7 digital era, only the strongest among us truly unplugs for long. How often do our readers suffer the commute, wolf down dinner, get the kids in bed and then fire up the tablet to get the latest factory floor data reports? (And that’s if they put it away in the first place.)

Evening board games or family walks to the ice cream store have been replaced by watching real-time production logs. We race from moment to moment, trying to do the work of three, with only our perpetual exhaustion to keep us company.

Talk about Mad Men.

And lest you feel you are being singled out, rest assured I’m as bad as they come. I absorb email like it’s an IV drip. My kids are curious about what’s so mesmerizing about my Samsung Galaxy, or they would be, that is, if they actually looked up from their own devices.

It’s summer. Time to take a break. Let’s all resolve to work a shift, not a day. Reacquaint yourselves with your spouse and families, or, barring that, maybe that neglected cactus on the table in the corner. Let’s take care of something other than business for a change.

Money talks. Speaking of working hard, this month kicks off our annual Designers’ Salary Survey. Each year, PCD&F undertakes a detailed study looking at the latest trends in compensation, background, responsibilities of printed circuit board designers. Readers can visit surveymonkey.com/s/977JM9G to participate. We will publish the results in the September issue.

September also marks the annual PCB West conference. For those heeding my advice – and I’ll be calling each and every one of you to make sure that you did – that’s a good time to dial back in.

Now in its 24th year, PCB West 2015 will feature its largest technical conference yet, with some 67 presentations over the three-day event. This year’s event includes 17 full- and half-day tutorials and workshops, plus several more two-hour presentations, addressing attendees’ request for longer sessions. Topics range from leading-edge technologies such as RF and microwave design, flex circuits, embedded components, and high-speed design, to presentations on basic printed circuit design and fabrication, auditing fab and assembly sites, and SMT assembly.

Other highlights include 12 free presentations and the first-ever Printed Electronics track. The complete course catalog is in the digital version of this issue and also at pcbwest.com.

This year’s show will also feature more than 100 companies, including all the top CAD and CAM vendors and top names in printed circuit fabrication and electronics assembly.

The event will be held Sept. 15-17 at the Santa Clara (CA) Convention Center. Last year’s show attracted more than 2,600 registrants and nearly 1,750 attendees from the PCB, HDI, electronics assembly and circuit board test markets.

We truly hope to see you there.

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