Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Patronising Electronics

Today I have taken delivery of a new car - minus a "Euro" plate. It's the same model as before but as expected with newer cars there are one or two tweaks and "improvements" that have taken place over the years. In this instance most of the changes as far as I can see are refinements to save costs and money - and there are some changes like an absence of a spare wheel which are presumably to improve the car's fuel economy by saving weight.

With the evolution of electronics and computers, we often find that they have moved on from being useful tools to help us into ones that provide useless and superfluous functions all in the spirit of marketing. Digital cameras, mobiles, televisions and DVD players all suffer from this affliction, usually to the extent where a line gets crossed into the territory of being patronising.

And so it proves with my new car - the dashboard display helpfully informs me when to change gear. One wonders why I bothered with a driving licence, or passing my test, when a car now tells me how to drive. Nothing makes my point better than this lifted directly from the car's manual:
"Upshift"... is shown as a symbol in the Driver Information Centre with Uplevel Display (what?) or Uplevel-Combi-Display (again what?), when upshifting is recommended for fuel saving reasons". 
Apparently this new feature is known as "EcoFlex drive assistant".

Well thanks chaps, all I need now is a YouTube tutorial on how to open a can of beer as well. Thank God I don't have to think for myself anymore.


  1. I hired a Ford Focus eco thingamyjig in Portugal and it nagged the same. The bloody underpowered thing would tell me I needed to be in fifth gear going uphill, even though my foot was pedal to the metal. ECo crap.

    1. I can imagine. Annoying thing is I can't turn the sodding thing off. No doubt it will also give me a "ice warning" in the winter just after I've had to scrape the windows.

    2. You have to scrape the windows?
      Doesn't it clear them itself?

    3. can't do useful things.

  2. There's a short answer to all this, the worst day's work we ever did was allow inanimate objects a brain and the option to voice an opinion.
    Being admonished by an inanimate machine, coming to a washing machine near you.

  3. Sometimes I have some sympathy with this chap

  4. But just imagine, If BL still existed it could have had a square steering wheel and an electronic back seat driver. Considering how badly they were received back then I'm surprised any car firm would try and reintroduce the back seat driver idea.

    Seriously, there must be a wire you can disconnect somewhere to kill it.

  5. And so it proves with my new car - the dashboard display helpfully informs me when to change gear. One wonders why I bothered with a driving licence

    Keep it simple, keep it basic. Design philosophy good for lonely roads - and oceans.

  6. A bit late in the day I know TBF but all this technology is designed with one purpose in mind, to make sure "you" can't mend it.