Trains4Africa
Because all Boys (and some girls) love Trains

Best Practices

Best Practices

Best Practices are based on both Science, Engineering and Real World experiences built through the operation, debugging or construction of many large layouts.  The goal of best practices is to offer solid advice that will work for every person on every layout as opposed to some people on some layouts.

Best Practices is the best advice simply because it is based on a full understanding of all the issues such that the recommendation will work for everyone every time.  Not just some of the people some of the time.  Best practices has engineering and science to back it up leading to become sound advice.  Stated another way, Best Practices is all about doing something right the first time so you do not have to go back and fix it latter.  It gives consistent and repeatable results.

Throughout this site, there are numerous articles and Best Practices discussions to maximize the reliability or flexibility of your layout.

ANECDOTAL ENGINEERING

When one uses Anecdotal Evidence information as the bases of a design decision, it becomes Anecdotal engineering.  True engineering is based on facts and accounts for all of the variables which have been fully identified and understood.   It’s science based.  Solid engineering result is the product that is guaranteed to work as advertised.  Following anecdotal evidence advice alone can potentially lead one into problems sooner or later.   You must understand all the issues first for only then can you truly determine what the best advice is.

Anecdotal Evidence

ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE are just comments based on a simple high level of observation with no samples of typical cases to back it up.   In other words it is a sample of ONE or to few to have any true value.  It is not used in establishing factual information with the scientific method nor used in engineering.

An analogy is something like driving a car with only one bolt holding the wheel rim to the wheel hub.  (Wheels are normally secured to a car using 5 special bolts that use reverse threads.)   The owner of the car observes that it works just fine driving the car around town.  Hence his conclusion is  it must be OK then to do.   A friend of his borrows the same car and decides to drive it on a race track for fun.   The car crashes because the wheel fell off.  In other words, the 5 bolts exist for wheel reliability under any and all operating conditions avoiding a wreak and possible loss of life.  The owner was wrong.

EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE can start out as a anecdotal based but has more direct observation with a lot of samples or cases and/or some limited experimentation to back it up. Good vs bad performance has to have a working definition to go with the evidence.  It also requires a good understanding of what your looking for and why.  If you do not know what to look for, the evidence has no clear value.  Empirical evidence is great in forming a theory but it still needs to be tested to prove or disprove it.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE (AKA FACTS): Only by following the scientific method involving carefully setting up the experiment, doing quantitative measurement, simulation and testing can one establish if this theory to be true or not.  In other words, only when we fully understand why the empirical evidence is true does the evidence become truly useful facts.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_evidence