Optional ethics? No freakin' way.

If you make a mistake, own up to it. And always stick to your ethical principles, else they’re worth as much as how you’ll eventually be treated. I was reminded of these mantras this week, right before I penned this column. So this month, we’re taking a break from Core i7, Thunderbolt, and OpenVPX. Consider it “Chicken Soup for the VME Soul.”

Sometimes I impress myself too much and am carried away by my own “brilliance.” The end result is always the same: I outsmart myself and screw up … while usually laughing at my own stupidity. Such is the explanation for why a half-page advertisement is at the bottom of this page.

Simply stated, we ran out of space in this magazine for a last-minute ad, but I incorrectly approved its addition at the last minute. Here’s where my brilliance “shined” ever so brightly: I failed to ask if there was actually available space in the magazine. In my defense, several people involved in this fiasco also failed to notice the error of adding 0.5 pages into a magazine with exactly 0.0 pages left. But I made the call and the error, so I’m taking the blame for the mistake – and penalizing myself by slicing 0.5 pages from this column.

Which (finally!) brings me to my point about ethics: Doing the right thing ... is always the right thing. It’s not an optional tactic that can be employed when convenient. In the ad screw-up scenario, I made the mistake, pure and simple. Blaming someone on my staff would’ve been counterproductive and unethical. At 20 years old at my first job, my mentor drilled ethics into my head. But what is “ethical behavior”? It’s as hard to define as “irony,” but most non-psychotics recognize an ethical decision as one you feel good about after doing. Speaking of ethics, one of my favorite ethical statements is read by John Rynearson of VITA’s VSO before every meeting:

“VITA’s patent policy regarding the use of patented technology in standards is posted on its website. … Working group members should read these policies. ... Members who are aware of any patents or patent applications that might be essential to the standards proposed by this working group are required to disclose them.”

This isn’t just a legal threat, it’s a statement about doing the right thing. Past VSO disclosures have yielded second sources for connectors, and predatory patents have been avoided.

So do the right thing – be ethical in all of your personal and professional dealings. And remember my own screw-up and subsequent public admission of guilt. Oh, by the way, please also patronize the advertiser below. If you buy something, maybe my boss will also forgive my mistake.

− Chris A. Ciufo, Editor