Every Once In A While…Posted: 17 February 2012
… I actually agree with something Richard Stallman had to say.
I was perusing my usual spots today and ran across an article on jalopnik.com regarding that annoying damned Check Engine light on your dashboard display. I’ve been ranting about the monopolization of the auto repair industry by the manufacturers for years now. Jason Torchinsky writes on Jalopnik about his war against the Check Engine light.
From the article Richard Stallman Weighs In On The Check Engine Light:
My fight against the check engine light still goes on, though, like an uncle with an extensive collection of pornography, I’m sure many of you were hoping I’d just keep it to myself. Well, like your pervy uncle, I won’t. I can’t. And, I’m not alone. Among the many emails I received, most suggesting I speak with my clergyperson, I received an email from Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement and the man who started the GNU/Linux operating system.
An email from Stallman himself! I’m impressed. Richard never emails me. :(
Jason goes on to quote Stallman:
I agree with you about the “Check engine” light, but that is a symptom of a broader and deeper problem: the owners of cars do not control, what the car’s computers do. These computers are running _proprietary_ software, software that controls its users.
So why should general drivers care?
Stallman responds in typical geek fashion with a bullet list:
1. So anyone can maintain the engine — including your choice of mechanic.
2. To protect against abusive features (see http://www.bostonreview.net/BR33.2/stallman.php). In this case, hiding information from you. With free software in that computer, people would make programs to give them more info than the Check Engine light gives. And you could use them even if you don’t modify your car in any way.
RAH! RAH! Sir Richard! I couldn’t have said this better myself. For years now the automotive industry has been attempting to kill the independent parts and service industries in this country by forcing automobile owners to go directly to the dealers for any and all service/parts that might be needed. How have they done this? With PROPRIETARY TECHNOLOGY, PARTS, TOOLS, TRAINING, etc. That’s how.
Nowadays, you almost always have to go to a dealer for even the most minor repairs or parts. This has killed the mom/pop auto repair/parts business in this country. It’s GREED on the part of BIG AUTO that has driven this to its current state; costing many their small business, and/or employment. How have we let this happen? The same way we let all oppression happen; through ignorance and apathy.
New cars are great if you can afford the maintenance agreements. If not, you better trade-in and get a new one once that warranty is up. Of course, this is exactly what BIG AUTO wants you to do. Vicious circle, huh?
Have a great weekend!
Image credits: check engine light from repairpal.com article - Understanding the Check Engine Light
Richard Stallman courtesy of Wikipedia.org