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Why being a programmer is bad for your health

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SiCrane

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So I own a hybrid electric car; a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid to be precise. This decision was a lot easier to live with before I realized that, having so many electronic components, the car must have been programmed at some level. Basically I got a letter saying that my care needs a software update because of a bug in the engine control module, so I need to go to the dealer and patch my car.

Now, if I wasn't a programmer myself, and if I haven't worked in what is a highly regulated industry (medical devices), this fact wouldn't bother me so much. However, I am and I have, so I know that there are more bugs in my car. Not that there might be more bugs, but there are more bugs in my car's software. Hopefully they'll be non-serious.

Either way, I'm strongly considering praying to the gods of computer science before every time I start up my car.




On a lighter note, the letter I got said that there was a bug in the "engine control module (ECM)", and when I first read the sentence my brain skipped over the words and went straight to the acronym. So for a confused moment I thought there was a bug in the electronics counter measures in my car. I really need to work that into conversation with a geek friend sometime soon. "Yeah, I need to get my car's ECM looked at this weekeend."
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Please tell me you bought a repossessed car and not a brand new one. Brand new = whole crapload of money out the window

Also if I was told to "patch my car" I'd try to return it saying they sold a defective car.

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I'd try to return it saying they sold a defective car.

Well on the plus-side, a software fault should be easier to fix than a hardware fault.

I can't remember the specific stories, but I've heard enough cases of "real" cars shipping with dodgy brakes that explode a high temperatures, cars that get stuck in gear and won't slow down properly, steering that messes up.. [oh]

Quote:
I'm strongly considering praying to the gods of computer science before every time I start up my car.

[lol] sounds like a wise idea! I'm just waiting for you to post the conversation where you phone them up "Yeah, crashed my car" ... "I'm fine, it was just a blue screen"

Jack

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ECM [grin] My flight sim days made me think, "Flare! Flare!"

So, does this mean your car comes with a EULA? o_O


Not that it's very comforting, but on average you know these companies do a cost / benefit analysis to determine if it is cheaper to pay lawsuits than fix a known problem.

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I guess those bugs are relatively minor, such as making the car not functioning at 100% of it's capacity, not turning off the stereo if the left headlight is on but the right door is half open, and so on.
Besides, many things such as the steering and breaking are mechanical, right?

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IIRC, even the steering and braking in those things are electronic and computer controlled. I seem to remember those things having magnetic induction braking, to bleed power back into the charging system rather than losing it as friction heat. Best of luck with that thing; I hope a segfault at 90MPH doesn't send you careening wildly out of control. [grin]

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Actually the Toyota Prius had a software bug that would make the car stall randomly. Including while going at relatively high speeds. I'm glad I didn't get one of them.

But yeah, it's just a software patch. They hook up some cables, send over some data, and then do some tests. Not a big deal.

As for mechanical, I know there are a lot of hydraulic backups in the car, but I don't think anything is purely mechanical in the Civic. The breaks do use regenerative breaking, for example. Admittedly most of the electronics is just power regulation and not truly critical to core functionality. ex: you can steer without power, it's just a lot harder.

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