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I would like to remind everyone that technical notes are not papers. They
can be incomplete, wrong, have errors, etc.. It is not like your
reputation will depend on their being perfect. Anything that has been
thought through well enough to post is also good enough to make a technical
So what is the difference between a post and a technical note?
Posts are like discussions that you have with colleagues in the hallway.
They are incomplete and depend on a continuing interaction. They do not
stand by themselves. You have to have followed the thread to understand
what is going on. OK, sometimes there is enough previous correspondence
copied along to make them stand alone. But posts tend to be a set of
interactions between multiple people.
A technical note is more like a classroom lecture. One person thinks out
somethig and presents it. It is more or less complete in itself. It may
spark a string of posts, and sometimes adding the post discussion will make
the technical note more complete.
Why have any distinction?
The archives hold the list discussions, but they are really hard to dig
out. We have discussed flat fielding a lot. But there is no technical
note on the subject, so if someone asks me "how do we propose to flat field
our images?" I cannot give them an easy answer. (Michael, could you add
"flat field" and "dark field" or some equivalent to the key words?) I am
about to send out some old Mark III parts to someone who will try to make
them work. Part of the problem is to tell how to hook up the camera to the
PC board. For this, I can just say look at TN-14. For the schematics for
the Mark III I can say look at TN-13. For a detailed question about a
problem, I can write referring to TN-13. The tech notes thus allow easy
answers to technical questions.
A number of things have been presented here that should be technical notes.
I cannot force you to call something a technical note. I will not take a
post and make it a technical note because I believe that that impinges on
A number of things have been lost that should have been made into a
technical note. This makes me sad. Good ideas have been lost. To give an
example that is not too offensive, I remember a long discussion by Ron
Wickersham about moving mirror tracking. It contained some very nice
ideas. But I suppose that Ron did not think it well polished enough to be
made into a technical note. (This in spite of my pleading.) So those
ideas are lost forever (unless this prompts Ron to find them and send them
to Michael as a technical note).
Remember, all you have to do is to send a copy of the post to Michael and
say "please make this a technical note". Suggestions for key words will
Again, the ideas do not have to be perfected to be a technical note. If
you have worked a while and taken the trouble to write something up that is
sort of stand alone, then it should be a technical note.
I have been in this biz a while, and I notice that some almost never
"publish". Others publish too much. I think that those that never publish
always think that they will make it a little better tomorrow. Well, the
technical notes here allow revision. So you can put it up as a technical
note today, and if you make it better tomorrow, you can revise the
technical note. Mostly tomorrow stretches out to next week, then next
month, then the idea just fades away. Very sad to lose good ideas, I think.