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More Tech for More Cars, More Problems for Us .. ARGGG!

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This might be a bit of a rant …


During the 2000s my kids were into World of WarCraft, but I could never get into the game myself. Partly, this was due to my own impatience. Generally, I’m pretty patient, but I’m less so when it comes to games. An example: one time I needed to hand my sword to another player, but to do so I had to execute a bunch of commands, spells, and other machinations that I can no longer remember. Ugh … I quickly lost interest.

Why do I bring this up? Because last night Washington State (and apparently other areas nationwide) suffered through a Verizon outage.  Ann and I were in bed when we learned of it, so we tried texting one another. I texted something gloriously romantic like the word, “test”.

Being it is so close to Valentine’s Day, I probably should have texted, “Won’t you be my Valentine”? But, I didn’t …. Dumb, dumb, dumb … You should learn from my mistake … go ahead … please learn from my mistake: text your significant other right now. Ask, “Won’t you be my Valentine”?

I’ll wait. You can thank me later.

Anyway, it took about ten minutes for the texts to reach our respective phones due to the outage and despite the fact we were sitting right next to each other. It felt like World of WarCraft all over again.


I beat this notion to death only to bring up the fact that Apple (accidentally?) released code a few days ago that demonstrates the company’s efforts to bring a new “CarKey” feature to their phone. It would, theoretically, allow iPhone users to seamlessly move from one car to another, even to rental cars, without ever having to have a key. How could this possibly go wrong? Let me count the ways …

  1. If your network goes down like it did for us last night, would that effect the ability to start the car?
  2. If your phone dies, could you start the car (some debate online about this)? At least the smart fobs have a physical key you can use.
  3. What if you drop your phone and it breaks? That’s an expensive key to replace! How big of a hassle would it be to get the phone replaced then resync with your car?
  4. What if you and your kids all use the same car, but your kid accidentally (or purposefully .. or their friends purposefully) changes the pairing code between the phone and car. Does this inhibit your ability to access your car? (pin problem example)
  5. What if you have to have an iOS update just to get into your car, but you don’t want the latest iOS update (like me), because your computer is five years old and you don’t want to buy another computer because yours works just fine, thank you, but can’t run the latest MacOS? Confused yet?
  6. Let’s not even get into hacking … if the Saudi’s can hack Jeff Bezo’s phone, I’m betting hackers can pretty much crack any phone they want. If these rumors are true, the CIA believes it can carry out assassinations via hacked cars. Meanwhile, hackers have accessed some vehicle by going through GPS. While the reality is that most of us have little fear, simply because there are millions of people with these vehicles, someone clever enough to do a massive bot attack could possibly reek havoc on the roads …
  7. I can go on with scenarios …

Now, I’m not some anti-tech luddite. Yet, I remember when iTunes was an easy-to-use software program for organizing and listening to music. These days it frustrates me to the point that I not only don’t use it, I also don’t buy more music because I’m so frustrated with it.

I can imagine Apple’s (and other computer makers) software for vehicles starting “simple”, then becoming bloatware to the point that the only vehicle I’ll drive is my vintage jeep (as I have mentioned in the past, I never pair my phone with my vehicle). Next, third parties will be introducing car apps. Then, some third parties will make programming mistakes, which will open up the system to hacking (how many times have we already seen that scenario play out over the year??), while other third parties (NSA for example) will create backdoors that someone will locate, still other third parties, with nefarious and varying interests, will insert bogus code into the system for their own benefit.

Those scenarios have already happened on both hardware systems (China example and the NSA and others) and software ecosystems (windows, MacApp ecosystem, Android ecosystem for starters have all had problems) over the last thirty years. It will happen with cars, too. It’s just a matter of time … oh wait, it already happened at least once, an e-mistake coupled with a coverup– thanks Toyota!

Maybe I’m a Luddite after all? Somehow, World of WarCraft is starting to sound like the ‘good ol’ days’.


If all that tech mania wasn’t enough, I ran across another vehicle/tech related story which out to make you pull what few hairs you have left out of your heads …. Imaging being a solider in the midst of a battle and your vehicle stops working. Instead of being able to do a quick fix or have your engineers fix the vehicle, you may have to wait for a third party contractor to repair the vehicle. Sound crazy? It is crazy, but true …

After all this, maybe we should all give valentine (real cards) to our other loves (our jeeps) to show our appreciation for them …


4 Comments on “More Tech for More Cars, More Problems for Us .. ARGGG!

  1. Tom in Paris

    Agree 100%. Thanks for the information. I hope Ann texted you something more romantic than “test”.

  2. Allan J. Knepper

    Dave……great post !!……congrats from a lifelong Luddite. Back in the day…..around 1996…. when GM was introducing OnStar, a writer that was doing some work for me in communicating to dealers couldn’t stop praising OnStar technology after doing research for the article. She thought it would be wonderful if a bad guy…..after committing a heinous crime…..could be stopped in his escape by simply calling GM to disable the vehicle. I then reminded her of the law of unintended consequences ……what about a scenario where a women and her children are trying to elude her kidnapper……and he calls GM to have her vehicle disabled just down the street. I can still remember the look on her face…..priceless.

  3. David Eilers Post author

    Glad everyone enjoyed my thoughts.

    I don’t know where the balance is between how much tech should or shouldn’t be inside our vehicles, but the notion that tech via a hotspot/cell tower can control the vehicle makes me uncomfortable. I also don’t like being unable to turn off the hotspot on our Grand Cherokee.

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