Saturday, 19 February 2011


One of the reasons we moved to France was to escape some of the complexity of modern life. By a large extent this has worked, we live a very simple life; Get up in a morning, take kids to school, chop wood for fire, light fire, make jewellery, cook dinner, etc. etc. But nevertheless I'm still amazed at just how complicated it can be made..... Take my car for example its packed full of electronics. Each function of the car is controlled by its own computer system and each one requires its own bit of software to access it. In the old days I could take a car apart with a reasonably basic tool kit and put it back together, now its altogether different. Its a brilliant example of how technology can be abused. Take the service light for example, on the last model of my car the service light came on to remind you that you need a service and could easily be reset, my car oh no...Now- only the main dealer can reset it! Its up-selling in all its glory, Fiat know that the closer they can lock you in to the main dealer, the more money they make! Now to my mind its my car, I should be able to maintain the car if I so wish, Fiat on the other hand know its more beneficial for them to tie me in to a lifetime of main dealer servicing. My farther (who never went near a garage in his life) would turn in his grave, and I don't like it one bit either! But I'm afraid this is the way the world is going; cars, software, any where you look companies are adding in complexity as a means to lock you into their way of life. Microsoft as a service, another good example. "don't you worry about putting up your own servers, its really hard, just give us all your money and we'll make it all go away..there.. there...that's better. That said if you look at all the really successful applications in recent years they are not the Microsoft way of life type applications. No not windows X or sharepoint way of life 3 but actually the simple stand alone innovative ones. Blogs, facebook, google, twitter, flickr etc. Now the one thing all these apps have in common it that they are all single purpose and they all have a really simple interface. You don't need a three day training course to drive twitter, nor should you need to (Microsoft.. look and learn).

And of course there is hope on the horizon, never thought id say it but god bless those hard working Chinese. If you look at the products coming out of China at the moment you will see 40year old perfectly good simple designs for scooters, quad bikes and motorcycles. Air cooled, carbs etc etc.  When those boys get their head around car production god help Fiat! A nice simple car, robust, economical, no electronics and 2/3 the price of a Fiat..... All with the same standard engine so you can buy bits of any street corner. It will happen but its still 5 years away. When it does there will of course be the most almighty repercussions for jobs and the likes of Fiat, Renault, Peugeot etc. If the car manufacturers were smart of course they join forces and head this off at the pass... Common engines between manufacturers standard open interfaces to electronics etc but unfortunately they are too wrapped up in their own self interest to do so. Think about it; I could go out and buy one of 10 different cars with a 1.9TD engine that does around 45-50mpg and gives out around 100+BHP. Each car would have a different engine; WHY! When the Chinese make a scooter there is one engine with two variations that is used in 30 different scooters by a bunch of different manufacturers, brilliant!

So the world is changing, but as a good friend of mine say's; "May all that you wish for be what you really want".


  1. Hi Marcus, nice post, thanks. Cars manufacturers resemble proprietary software vendors to me. You can't do much without paying lots of money to them. And once you're in, it's hard to leave. Therefore, wherever I can I try to use "open source" stuff.

  2. Good man, "open source" is where its at! Hope all is well with you. "Bonne chance mon ami!"