Be on the wave or under it
The News – 03/19/04
in BMW Software
Alert SNS Reader Valerie Janda sends along
an item about the ultimate car hack. Ever since performance
management computers crept under the hood, car enthusiasts have
been hacking the software that controls ignition timing and
other performance parameters. Most of the time, this is illegal.
The latest trend combines a software practice known as Easter
Eggs (programmers put in special funny or strange features
that can be found with bizarre key combinations or actions)
with this time honored automobile hack.
I’ve commented before
on the high degree of computer automation in the latest BMWs.
A whole lot of the car is now controlled by Microsoft's Windows
CE operating system, including the transmission. Car rockers who want to rev up the engine, slam into gear and smoke
the tires are typically prevented from doing so if their car
has BMW’s sequential manual gearbox. Well the BMW engineers/programmers
put in an Easter Egg to appease these speed demons. Simply follow a specific
procedure and you can smoke miles off your high performance
So this whole idea of running a car with Windows
reminds me of the old joke: If your car ran like your (Windows)
For no reason whatsoever,
your car would crash twice a day.
Every time they repainted
the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to
pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows,
shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before
you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept
a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut
down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to
reinstall the engine.
The oil, water temperature,
and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single
"General Protection Fault" warning light.
The airbag system
would ask "are you sure?" before deploying.
Every time GM introduced
a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over
again because none of the controls would operate in the same
manner as the old car.
- Shameless Self-Promotion
Dept.: It’s here: A new company from StratVantage – The
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We visit and get it up and running fast. The second part of
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wireless hotspots. Check out the Website at www.TheWiMAXGuys.com.
I provided some background info for my colleague, Marcia Jedd, who prepared an interesting white paper called
Six Ways to Increase Marketing ROI. Check it out.
My article, Why
Your Company Needs a Professional Wireless Network,
was published in the Reside newsletter, which also published
my article about Short Messaging Service (SMS), Wherever
they go, there you are.
My second article for Fawcette Technical
Publications’ Enterprise Architect magazine, Companies
Collaborate on IT Practices, reports on a best practices
sharing effort called Project Avalanche. My feature article,
Computing Takes Off in the Enterprise, was published
in the magazine’s inaugural issue last May. (Registration
required to view.)
My article, Innovative
Marketers Target Unwired Customers was published in
the NetSuds newsletter in May.
Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be
On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’
insights over the last couple of years, along with additional
material from CTOMentor white papers
and new material. It will make a great gift for associates
and friends in need of a guide to the latest and greatest
technology. Watch for more information in upcoming SNS issues.
Several issues ago I debuted SNS Begware,
an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation
by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more
info. Total in the kitty so far: $86.48.
Comment on the CAN-SPAM Act
The FTC would like
to hear from you. The agency is charged with figuring out
what Congress meant by the CAN-SPAM act. God knows, I don’t
know what our lawmakers were thinking. Chances are they were
thinking more about re-election than actually doing something
about spam, but I suppose it’s better to have an ineffective
law than no law.
Anyway, you can use the links below to add your comments on
this totally futile act. Here’s what I sent the FTC:
5(b) should clearly define using opt-out mechanisms to harvest
valid emails as aggravated violations and the purchasing of
addresses harvested in this way, even if by entities outside
the jurisdiction of the US, as aggraved violations.
scenarios are problematic. Regulations should not prohibit forwarding
commercial email unless the original sender offers some sort
of incentive for doing do. People who forward and email because
they think their correspondent might be interested should be
The National Do Not Email Registry if implemented in plain text
(i.e. a list that a spammer can download and use to spam with)
is a particularly bad idea. Such a registry should only be implemented
via a challenge mechanism in which emailer
submit lists to a site and receive back either cleaned lists
or status for each email on the list.
CAN-SPAM Comment Form
- Vendor Solves Swiss Cheese Humvee Problem: US Global Nanospace
wants to remedy the military Humvee
design flaw that’s killing troops in Irag.
Seems that the military is deploying many vehicles without
any body armor. Thus, troops have packed their vehicles with
sandbags to try to keep body and soul together. US Global
Nanospace has developed Guardian™
Antiballistic Replacement Door Skin (GARDS™), which install
in 15 minutes. The coolest thing about them is the company
uses their new G-Lam™ nano-fiber anti-ballistic material. Not only is this
another example of the current uses of nanotechnology, that’s
one groovy name for a product (say it with me gee-lam, g-lam,
- Wal-Mart Already Using RFID: Wal-Mart, the 800 pound gorilla of discount
retailing and perhaps the company most committed to RFID technology,
is already tracking pallets and cases from two suppliers coming
into one distribution center. And there are those who persist
in claiming that Information Technology no longer provides
a competitive edge. Here’s what I said online about the recent
between Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet and founder
of 3Com, and former Harvard Business Review editor Nicholas G. Carr, author of "IT Doesn't Matter:"
think Carr is just being sensationalist, he has some valid
points. Nonetheless, even in this age of CIO reporting to
CFOs, IT can definitely give an advantage. Try telling Wal-Mart
that requiring RFID tagged pallets isn't a competitive advantage.
The examples are myriad.
However, I had to laugh at one of Metcalfe's assertions:
"Unless his views are thoroughly debunked, Metcalfe said,
'today's current crop of MBAs will be running WordPerfect
on 286s,' and American ingenuity will be 'strangled in the
Umm, there's really very little your typical MBA or other
civilian needs in a word processor that couldn't be provided
by a 286 running WordPerfect. Bob has inadvertently touched
on one of the features of the IT explosion that undermines
his point: pointless, inexorable feature bloat. I mean, really,
who needs a word processor that has a 10MB executable and
a 60MB disk footprint? Only a small percentage of users tap
even 10 percent of MS Word's features.
As a CIO said to me once, "Tell me the competitive advantage
I got from upgrading from Excel 95 to 97?" Answer: precious
If feature bloat is what's necessary to ensure a strangle-free
existence for American ingenuity, God help us all.
Return to Mike’s
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About The Author
a New Service from StratVantage
Can’t Get Enough of ME?
In the unlikely event
that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable
thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped
collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web
page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do,
you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows
you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com.
This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts
to your Weblog.
I’ve dubbed my Weblog
entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/.
Let me know what you think.
Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of
the latest emerging trends.
14, 1928 - July 5, 2003
Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003