PING: Ted Mittlestadt

I couldn't help but think of you, as I read my subscription of AutoWeek:
http://www.cars.com/news/stories/111604_storyb_an.jhtml

God Bless, Dan'L
("If I'm going to reach out to the the Democrats then I need a third hand.There's no way I'm letting go of my wallet or my gun while they're around.")
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Actually, this is a really good article, although it is probably fatally too long for the average person to go through. It fairly portrays both sides of the argument I think, although it does gloss over the deactivation issue with the comment:
"there's little he or she can do to prevent the device from recording data short of shorting out the car's airbags and other safety systems."
This really isn't true. Right now the black boxes included with the Onstar are ones that people are paying for so of course there's no market for black box defeaters.
But once black boxes are mandatory, a market will exist for black box defeaters. A simple, crude but effective device would be wiring a small circuit and coil into the system with a button under the dash the driver could push. If a driver gets into an accident that they know is their fault, a push of the button would kick over the relay to cut out the computer from the rest of the vehicle electrical system, then pump several thousand or so volts into the sensor inputs, destroying the computer.
I particularly liked the quote:
"It all seems to be going toward the idea of tracking people as much as possible so companies can wring as much money as possible out of people"
The OnStar example was a hoot. I don't have OnStar and I cannot imagine why people that have OnStar-capabable vehicles pay the monthly fee for it, it seems to me to be one of the most obnoxious and useless services imaginable. They just duplicate 911 and charge you for it. Hell, even my cell phone today has a GPS in it that is activated when you dial 911.
I do have one beef with the article though. It stated:
"Oregon is working on a toll-road system that downloads global positioning s atellite data and odometer readings at the gasoline pump to collect fuel taxes on each gallon based on the amount a motorist drives"
This isn't really true. Oregon is working on a system like this but only for trucks - because we are one of the few states with the weight mile tax on large (semi) trucks. There are NO toll roads in the state. And the weight-mile tax was almost repealed a couple years ago through initative petition. If the state ever did try slapping a system like this on general motorists, there would be an initative petition that would probably scrap the entire large truck tax and would definitely scrap this system, so I don't think the politicians in the state here would take the risk of losing the truck tax revenue.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

Just like most of Ted's posts. :-)
Matt
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

Theoretically, yes.
Practically? It will be some time. Why?
Don't most Ford or GM vehicles now come with data recorders? For at least a year now? If so, are we seeing black-box de-activators for them?
Only until those cars with data recorders start entering the used-car market will you see people who
(a) are more likely to "customize" their vehicle in such a drastic manner (b) are more likely to be of the age demographic to benefit from de-activating the data recording mechanism
New car buyers are the LEAST likely to tinker with their new car's computer. Remember, unless they paid cash for their new car, they won't do anything to it (like fry the computer) that would put them on the hook with the dealership (or the bank). But once the car is old enough to be a used car, then people do all sorts of shit to it.
You won't see generic black-box deactivators until the year 2010. You will probably see custom de-activators for the Mustang or Corvette within a year from now.
Insurance companies could also write in a provision that intensionally defeating the data-recording capability could render your insurance null and void. I bet Geico will be the first to do that.

I've often wondered why, on toll roads like the Penn turn pike, that they don't fine you for speeding since it would be very easy to do by knowing when you picked up your entry ticket and when you feed it to the machine on the exit ramp that they know when (and where) you got on (and off) the toll road that they could easily calculate your average speed.
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MoPar Man wrote:

The next big market for spammers - how to get free cable TV *AND* kill your black box - all in one e-mail. Their postage costs will be cut in half: 1/2 X $0.00. 8^)
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my adddress with the letter 'x')
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Aw shit Bill, don't give 'em any ideas!!
Ted
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The GM stuff according to the article has it built into the OnStar system, as people pay a fee for that they hardly represent a market for a defeater.
Frankly though, IMHO anyone paying for OnStar is in the category of the group that we all have an interest in seeing saddled with black boxes.

Probably
I know what your saying here, the high-risk, younger crowd. But, I think your missing something - the very highest incidents of crashing where the driver in the demographic is at fault are in the 16-20 year old. I know the insurance companies claim the actual high risk demographic is 16-25 but we all know this is just a lie, the 21-25 year olds don't get into nearly the accidents the younger crowd do, the insurance companies are just doing it to scam more money out of the populace.
I think in vehicle ownership your going to find most of the 16-20 year old driving mommie and daddie's cars, who are not going to let them put a defeater on the vehicle.
And as for the 21-25 year old crowd if you pull any of them aside and ask them if they are at a higher risk of accident then the older geezers, they will all tell you your full of crap, that it's everyone else out there who is a worse driver then they are, and who is causing the accidents.
So I don't think that (b) will be much of a motivator. I think that it's pretty obvious that defeaters are going to be sold using the "anti-spying" scare marketing, rather than "if you disable this and smash someone else's car up you might get away with it"

I don't think this is really much of an issue. Consider it this way. A defeater MUST be designed so that it's presense isn't legally provable. In short, an investigating cop can find evidence that a defeater might have been used in the car, but not proof. In a criminal prosecution it isn't good enough to say "Judge, we found some wires that we think could have been used in a defeater, but we didn't find a defeater"
And this is true whether in an accident the driver is at fault or not. If the cops find a defeater they are going to assume that the driver is at fault regardless of the circumstances and charge him with manslaughter or whatever they can that is applicable to the crash.
Finding a fried computer in a crashed car isn't proof a defeater was used. In a crash wires can short, frying the computer.
So, the defeater electronics must be designed so that after a crash in the 5-10 minutes that the driver is sitting behind the wheel, the driver can remove the defeater electronics after either using them or not, then put it in his pocket. Then, get out of the car to lay some flares, pull out the defeater, which is disguised to look like the stub of a road flare, and of which the components are about 90% plastic, and the case has a good solid slug of thermite in it, and in 5 minutes the defeater is just another flare that burns really fast, down to ash.
A defeater like I described that burns out the computer could be built to be installed so that it's installation and removal would be undetectible. All you need to do is find the connector on the side of the computer, unplug it, and insert a harness with a male and female plug on it going to the defeater, that goes to a self-shorting defeater socket in the dashboard. If the defeater is pulled out, the computer is connected to the car electronics, and the car operates normally. If the defeater is inserted, the car computer still operates normally, unless the driver presses the button on the defeater, which instantly isolates the computer and dumps 500 volts into it in short duration which destroys only the computer, leaving the rest of the car electronics alone.
Of course, the cops in an accident investigation are going to find the defeater socket. But if the driver takes the defeater with him there is no proof that after the accident the defeater was in the socket. It didn't need to be there for the car to work. And a spike of that duration will not heat up chips or otherwise cause visible charring or such on the circuit board.

It is best if your going to defeat the recorder, that you make it so that the authorities don't have proof that you defeated the recorder. And you also have to make it so that it's user-selectible, because if the driver knows for a fact that he wasn't speeding, he wasn't crossing the line, and so on, then he doesen't want the recorder data to be defeated.
In short, the driver doesen't know if he wants the recorder defeated until after an accident. After an accident, the driver then will decide if he wants the data destroyed. If the accident was his fault then he's going to destroy the data, if not, he doesen't.
I don't think your going to see defeaters be anything more than a one-shot one-use blowup-computer type of thing. If you manufactured a car computer that didn't data-record, that isn't something that can easily be removed after an accident, and it would show proof of intent to defeat the recorder which would hold up in court, and probably work against you.

Because in order to do that they would have to stop you to get identification because they cannot assume that the owner of the vehicle is driving it. And while you were sitting there providing your identification the next speeder behind you would be waiting to provide HIS indentification, and so on and so forth. It would back up the toll road unbelievably.
Anyway, why are you thinking small potatos? Instead of looking for speeders, it would be a lot more lucrative to just check license plate numbers looking for stolen cars, or looking for cars that didn't have valid registrations, or check drivers to see if their licenses wern't suspended, etc.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

Females (of any age) that buy a new or used car will have zero interest in adding a device or modifying their car's computer to turn off the data-recording capability.
Young males (20 to 30 but particularly 20 to 25) who are driving their own vehicle (their first car) - let's say it's used - will be the most motivated to de-activate data recording if their car has it. Most probably it will be a 2006 model, and they will be buying it used no earlier than 2010.
Males aged 20 to 25 that buy a new car (2006 model or later) may have a sufficient lack of fear to risk dammaging their car's electrical system / computer and seek out and deploy the data recording de-activator mechanism.
I guess a lot depends on what sort of after-market method arises to perform the data recording de-activation. It might require changing a component of the on-board computer (ie "chipping" it), it might require a dongle that is permanently plugged into the computer access port, or it could be accomplished by performing an un-documented ignition sequence. Or it might require a complete swap of the computer control module for an after market version. Some of these methods are either very expensive or very technical to perform, and in any case I predict that the existance of de-activation methods or products will not become widely known to the general driving public and will be about as common as sophisticated Radar detector and laser detector/jammer products currently are.

Nobody is going to spend $$$ to market that sort of message to your average soccer mom to get her to de-activate the data recording function of the computer in her mini-van because it simply won't result in any sales.
You will find ads for these things in the back pages of Road and Track, right beside the ads for the rocky mountain passive/legal radar jammer and the chips to add 15 hp to your neon.

Um - I don't think that's an issue.
Data recording capabilities may end up being a standard function in every new car sold in a few years - WITHOUT the gov't requiring it. And even if the gov't does, it doesn't mean it would be illegal for the owner to de-activate it.
After all, stuff relating to the certification of vehicles usually falls to individual states, and upon testing used vehicles (either annual or semi-annual) or for re-sale purposed, as long as the odometer hasn't been screwed with, and as long as the car passes emmissions and safety tests, it's unlikely that de-activating data recording capability would either be detectible or a ticket-able offence.

Will never be sold as a commercial product for so many reasons that I won't go into here.

The "authorities" aren't CSI of TV lore. They do not have star-trek technology or intelligence. You don't have to go to extreme lengths to cover-up something like that. But I think that's all a moot point. It will not be an offence to de-activate the data recording aspect of the car's computer. And even if it does become an offence - it will simply be a moving violation (like driving with a burned out tail light) and would play no role in an accident case from a prosecution or court point of view.

The driver might be incapacitated and have no ability to either kill the computer or clear it's memory after an accident.
This could all be a red herring.
The real reason for these data recorders could very well turn out to be a way that the car companies are protecting their own ass against accident law suits. Someone gets into an accident - they claim the car was at fault and the maker was negligent - the car becomes evidence - car maker somehow gets access to the data in the computer - and data shows that the driver error was the cause of the accident.
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I think they will just pay someone to do it for them.

All of that I think is a good line of thinking...

No, but if your the owner of a vehicle and your being sued in a civil suit by the heirs of some other driver that you smashed into and killed, even if the legal test for getting you convicted for manslaughter wasn't met, the fact that you tampered with the data recorder is going to sway a jury against you. The plantiff's lawyer will merely argue that you intended to speed, and in a civil suit that kind of thing is allowed.
And there is a difference also between getting charged and getting convicted. If a prosecutor finds you have tampered with the data recorder he is going to automatically assume your a habitual speeder and he's going to charge you. Even if a court later tosses it based on "it's my right to disable the data recorder" you still have the expense of mounting a defense.
Your best shot is to not even get charged in the first place, which you do by making sure that the prosecutor/investigator doesen't know that you tampered with the data recorder.

A chip mod like your describing -is- tampering with the odometer.

Ah your thinking of the liabilty angle - some goof presses the button at highway speeds and his car computer suddenly dies, his engine loses power and he has to pull over.
How is this any different than if the computer fails normally?
And a defeater that burns out the computer is going to be much cheaper than a chip modification to the body computer or some such.

I kind of agree with this.

I disagree with this. It's going to make a difference in determining whether to charge you and it's going to make a difference in any civil suit.
Plus since so much of this is handled pretrial anyway, a prosecutor that sees a deactivated data recorder is going to have an incentive to manufacture/ pile on the charges, to get you to plea it down.
He's going to charge you with manslaughter and with reckless driving and he's going to tell you that they know damn well you were speeding because you took the trouble to cover up the evidence, so if you try fighting them they are going to fuck you over royally, then they are going to offer a plea bargain, strike the manslaughter if you accept reckless driving.
Once you accept reckless driving then your going to lose everything in the following civil suit.

Well yes that is true, and I knew about that as well. But you have to really choose the point of view that your going to look at the deactivator from.
If your looking at it from the POV that this is a tool for concealing evidence that you committed a crime, your going to opt for what I described. And while you might think that is a strange viewpoint, consider this. I myself regularly speed on the highways. I don't drive 55. I don't drive 85 either, but I drive 60-65, which is what everyone else on the highway drives.
I have to assume, to protect myself, that if I were to ever smash into another car at that speed and kill the driver, that the driver's heirs are going to try to take me for whatever I am worth. And I have to assume that this will be the case even if it's not really my fault - ie: there was oil on the road, the driver in front of me hit ice and spun out, etc. And I have to assume that if those heirs get a copy of my data recorder and see I was driving above the speed limit that they are going to put enormous pressure on the DA to charge and convict me with speeding, because once convicted they are going to have a lot easier time going before a civil judge and claiming that the accident was my fault, and they deserve a wrongful death settlement. Or, if they find out I disabled the data recorder the same thing will happen. In this case, I have to assume that a data recorder for me is a liability every day for me on the highway.
BUT, if your looking at it from the paranoid-survivalist POV and your just against it on moral grounds as being a privacy invasion, well then your probably going to opt for a solution like what you describe, ie: chipping it, etc.

This is actually more a restatement of why the NHTSA wants them. I don't know about your feelings on them but in my opinion, the NHTSA is much more sympathetic to the automakers than they are to the consumers who are killed in accidents. There are lots of really minor safety issues - such as the projecting seat belt button (www.unsafebelts.com) - that the NHTSA has the grounds and political power to pressure the automakers to fix, yet they ignore it. And whenever they do bestir themselves to push for recalls - such as the recall for the busted clockspring, NHTSA # 04V480000 they allow the automakers to get away with murder. There's lots of people with busted clocksprings in 2001 vans that it's obvious the problem is that Chrysler had some leftover 2000 clocksprings they used in 2001 production - but those owners got stuck with the bill with no help from the NHTSA. And, only replacing it in under 70K vans?
I think the NHTSA is the one that wants to protect the automakers from accident lawsuits. I suspect that the automakers have been pretty free with the cash and by now, own the NHTSA.
Ted
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Of the many 19-24 yr old "young male" friends I occasionally meet that hang with my kids, it is a rare one today that has even a clue or interest in learning about how to do the simplest car repair or even maintenance. Most say, "Wow, I wish I knew how to do that!" when they see me changing out a thermostat or belt. But then they walk away with no further interest. So, unless a they pay a store to install such a device for them, it wont get installed. Why is that?
--
-bye,
Rick

"Ted Mittelstaedt" < snipped-for-privacy@toybox.placo.com> wrote in message
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hang
out
So,
Because mommy and daddy have enough cash to pay for most of the costs for junior to drive a car around.
When your kid turns 16, 17 do you want to be driving him around all day long to his firends, band practice, dates, football practice, etc. etc. etc.? When you and spouse are both working? He can't do half of the activities he wants to do if he has to rely on the bus system.
What happens is with any "good kid" ie; teenager who is getting B's in school, mommy and daddy go through a process of convincing themselves that the kid "deserves" the car when the reality is mommy and daddy just don't want to be bothered acting as driver. So they go find a car for junior, and pay for the car, pay for insurance, pay for major repairs - and the kid gets a rediculous view of the costs of actually running a vehicle.
3-4 years later the tone has been set and it's a lost cause.
What you want to do is start in with them when they are 14-15 years old. You teach them to do all the maintainence crap, changing fluids, changing wiper blades, tires, etc. You start teaching them on the theory of the internal combustion engine. When they hit driving age you tell them they can get a car but they have to pay everything for it. Including insurance. You tell them that you will buy any tool they need to fix their car - but they have to buy all parts, do all labor - or pay someone to do it - with thier own money.
When the kid realizes that if they do the work themselves it means the difference between being able to afford the car or not afford the car - they are going to do the work. Even if they dislike doing it. And of course, once they do the work enough it gets easier and easier to do, and their stock of tools is built up more and more, and eventually its second nature to them.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

>>

Though I agree with you Ted, that today is considered, to quote Radar O'Reilly, horse and buggy thinking. It's almost to the point that if you did that, social services would take the kid away from you for abuse.
Signed, Bill Putney, father of three daughters (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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hang
interest.
get
long
do
want
for
changing
a
them
all
going
the
more
Sigh. I know. Somehow in the 60's I think the idea took place that children spring from the womb possessing a complete sense of empathy, a strong sense of responsibility, and the desire to practice delayed gratification, and parents fuck that up by interfering in the kids normal development.
Children are like water, they will always choose the easiest thing to do at the time, even if a succession of such choices leads to them being a 300 pound couch potato that sits in front of a Sony Playstation all day long and flunks out of High School.
Maturing is the process of developing motivation and responsibility, and there are a great number of adults walking around today whose parents have never forced them to mature.
I suppose it's a bit much to ask the MasterCard generation to teach fiscal responsibility to their children.
Ted
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Come on, chaps. Cars are much more reliable than they used to be and car repair skills are just not that important any more. Plus some parts of cars are much harder to repair yourself.
Get over it... ;-)
AND: it's "black boxes" with NO apostrophe.
DAS
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
--
"Ted Mittelstaedt" < snipped-for-privacy@toybox.placo.com> wrote in message
news:newscache$ghp6bj$o061$ snipped-for-privacy@news.ipinc.net...
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More reliable????
I have calculated the Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) for Electronic Assemblies using the MIL-STD-217E.
I can tell you definitively that todays cars are NOT more relaible than those of yesterday! The more plumbing and electronic modules incorporated into the car, the LESS reliable it is.
Just because the systems have self-diagnostics which can detect and advise of a problem BEFORE the system fails does not make it more reliable!
The main problem with cars of old was that regular maintenance was required, and people FAILED to do that maintenance! So those cars would break down, and could well leave you stranded if they were not properly maintained.
Cars of today are less likely to leave you stranded, but they still will require the replacement of a defective part or module. And those electronic modules are NOT CHEAP! Not to mention the $100+ per hour "special electronic diagnostic" charge to determine what the problem is in the first place!
North American Auto Makers are in business to make money. This is done in two ways: 1) Sell you a car, and 2) Make damn good and sure that you will either have to buy a new car within 5 years OR make darn good and sure you will be shelling out for maintenance should you not decide to buy a new car!
The more complicated a system is, the more difficult and expensive it is to fix.
In the summer I camped next to a couple who had a 1948 Chevrolet. This car was equiped with a "straight six" of around 230 CID. That car, even as heavy as it was, got comparable (or better) gas mileage than my 2002 Grand Caravan. So there has been little or NO improvement in the figures that COUNT - M.P.G. Safety has improved. Creature comforts have improved. However, cost of lomg-term ownership has been deliberately made prohibative by overcomplicated designs which are designed with one thing in mind - obsolescense! Evenif you decide to keep your new car "forever", you may not be able to! All that has to happen is that a critical electronic module gets discontinured (even in the aftermarket), and then that "module" fails. Voila! You WILL be buying a new car.
The difference is that their 1948 Chevrolet still has the original steering gear! I cannot say the same for my GC as mine was just replaced at 98,000 kms. Shameful.
I used to have a 1968 Nova with a 250 CID engine. Regular Oil Changes, Annual Tune Ups, and VERY INEXPENSIVE and very simple mechanical repairs - many of which I could do myself! That car NEVER - and I mean NEVER left me stranded. And it did NOT cast me a small fortune to maintain either.
Newer cars are harder to repair yourself because they have been DESIGNED that way - deliberately! The big 3 want your $$$$!
On Mon, 8 Jan 2007 13:10:51 -0000, "Dori A Schmetterling"

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NewMan wrote:

Exactly. The reliability of each component may have increased, but the number of parts (not just the black boxes, but the number of integrated circuits, resisotrs, diodes, transistors, etc., etc.) has probably gone up by over two orders of magnitude. When you do the statistical calulation of so-many-parts-per-million failures (multiplying that times the number of parts that there are to fail), you have to improve that more than you increase the number of parts that there are to fail. Probably the net effect is that both factors have increased neck and neck, possibly the overall reliability is ahead - BUT, the cost of the repair when something does fail has increased an order of magnitude (and so has the complexity and cost of the diagnosis process if it is something that doesn't specifically get identified by a plug-in diagnostic tool).
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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Electronics in a 48 Chev.? Oh yes, the radio which is better replaced anyway because vacuum tubes are now a very premium price if you can even find them.
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