Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

If Linux was a car (Hater’s edition)

23 Oct 2011

Originally posted on October 23, 2011 by Michael Hall on Michael Hall’s Blog.

There have been several humorous variations of the “If Linux was a car…” theme, but a recent rant against Linux made me wonder, what would the stereotypical hater’s opinion be on our modern automobiles?  Here is how I imagine it would go:

I’m giving up on cars.  Every few years I test-drive a car, to see if they’ve reached the point where they are usable to every day people, and every time I am disappointed.  Sure, maybe coverall-wearing mechanics and uber-elite NASCAR drivers can figure out how to operate them, but they’re just too damned complicated for your average joe.

To start off, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of cars, and they’re all different.  How do car makers expect a non-expert to be able to select one?  Most manufacturers even make different “models” of their car, so it’s not enough to just say you want a Ford, now you have to decide which Ford you want.  I don’t know ahead of time whether I’m going to want to move furniture, go off-roading or cruise the Autobahn, why should I have to pick one?  Why can’t they just make one car that does everything?

And once you finally do pick a car, it’s nearly impossible to maintain.  You can’t even replace the air filter without opening the hood!  My Grandma isn’t going to open the hood. Even regular maintenance can ruin your car if it’s not done in exactly, EXACTLY, the right frickin’ way.  After test-driving the latest version of some Toyota, a light came on telling me it needed more fuel.  Okay, I thought, there’s a fueling station right down the block, this should be easy enough.  But no.  First of all, I don’t even know what side of the car the fuel opening is on, so I pull up to a pump only to discover it’s on the other side! (I later found out that there’s a nearly hidden message on the dash indicating what side it’s on, but it’s certainly not made abundantly clear).  After pulling around to another pump, I’m greeted by not one, not two, but four different kinds of fuel.  At this point I probably should have spent an hour reading the car’s manual to discover which of these mystery liquids is the right one, but I just want to drive, I don’t want to become a freakin’ mechanic!  So I pick the one with the nicest looking handle (a pretty green one called “Diesel”), and don’t you know it, the stupid thing doesn’t even fit my car!  Luckily the convenience store sells fuel containers, so I can at least pump five gallons at a time into that, then pour it into my car.  It’s a horrible user experience and an lot of work, but at least now I have a full tank right?  Well not so fast, evidently this fuel sucks, or my car sucks, or something, but it’s making an awful lot of smoke and driving slow.  Who’d have thought that something as simple as refueling could wreck this thing?

So that car is a lost cause, but I want to finish my review of automobiles, so I borrow one from a colleague who is always telling me that his works just fine.  Luckily for me it has a full tank already, so I don’t have to try and navigate that minefield again.  His car runs fairly well, but it doesn’t have much “bling” if you know what I mean.  I decided to install some features that I’ve seen on other cars, so I go to my nearest big-box store and immediately I’m hit with another huge list of options.  Seriously,  how many different CD players do we need?  I just want one that plays music.  I don’t really know which one is best, so I just grab the cheapest one they have only to discover that, yet again, it doesn’t “Just fit”.  This thing is about an inch too tall for my co-workers dashboard.  This time I consult The Google, and find a video tutorials for installing this thing.  So I grab mySawzall and some plywood, and follow along.  The end result isn’t pretty, and it has a faint burning-plastic smell when I turn the volume up, but at least I got _something_working.

So now I am cruising around town with my Katy Perry blasting and the windows down (because that darn burning plastic smell makes me dizzy), only to be stopped by the “traffic police”.  What nobody bothered to tell me when I was looking at using a car was that evidently there are rules you have to follow.  There are so many rules, I later learned, that there’s an entire manual devoted to them.  And a test too!  Do people really expect that their parents will be able to remember all of these crazy rules?  Any why does my car even have the ability to go 120 MPH if I’m not even allowed to do it?

So that’s it, I’m giving up.  Cars are just too damn complicated for normal people to use.  There are too many choices, most of which will end up breaking your car.  There are too many rules, and by the time you follow them all driving it’s even fun anymore.  To top it all off, my brand new CD player ended up causing a small fire even though I followed every single one of the YouTube video’s instructions.  So I returned this smoldering pile of junk to my co-worker, and as he was muttering something about “theft” and “pressing charges”, I promised myself that from that point on I was sticking to my good old trustworthy horse and buggy.

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