Remember a few years back when it was hip to have a Cell phone? Then email became popular and if you want to stay "with it", better get yourself a Web Page! What is this Internet thing and why am I not ranting on automotive stuff, you might ask?  Internet is a global information network that puts you in touch with any other user anywhere at the price of a Local Phone call.

Of course this means Telecom must keep our lines working, which is not very usual. According to Microsoft, Namibia has the most Internet users per Capita in Africa. Most farm lines experience problems with fax systems, but with the net you can log on, pick up your mail and send new stuff out. With Ultra phones though the transfer speed becomes pitiful. If your line is down your Server will still hold mail for some time. If you get a Web Page people all over the World can surf and see what you have to offer, ask questions and if you are so inclined get answers.


What has this got to do with Automotive? Lots! Typical present scenario, you enter the Doors of your friendly dealer and order your spare part. You are assured that he does not have it but it will be ordered and he’ll let you know when he gets it. 3 weeks and 7 Excuses later you are finally presented with a Part you did not order. On the net you can find your manufacturer look at his spare parts list and order it on your MasterCard. You can then use the net to trace where your parcel is at any given moment until it is delivered to your Local dealer. Here you can pick up the part, have it fitted or return it. If enough people are Computer Literate this will happen here also.


In the USA there is a Car Dealer with no lot but massive sales. You log onto his site select the vehicle you wish to purchase and he will steer you to a dealer closest to you where you can test drive your Dreammashine. In turn he pays the dealer gets a commission for his efforts. Once you are happy the Car will be delivered to you Factory direct at enormous savings. The same is happening with Books, the lot. Information is here, you just have to use it.


OBD2 (On Board Diagnostics) often has a service capability that lies dormant: When you purchase a car your code is entered into the vehicles Computer and stored on the net. Every Service, part and drop of fuel can be entered there. At the nearest computer all the data can be downloaded and changed. So when the next Buyer purchases it or you have a claim, there will be a complete history present. This History is also nice to monitor problems, and it lets you know exactly what is going on with your Vehicle. Sadly so, it can also be accessed by he Cops- though this is in Court right now, at least in the USA where the people have the guts to fight the system.


Ok in the USA there was a system of Extended warranties and Lies such as “ the manufacturers warranty is automatically voided once an Aftermarket part (non OEM) is installed”. This ain’t true you will not loose your Vehicle warranty if it has Performance parts fitted (Magnuson-Moss Act of 1982) or is not Serviced by the Agent in most cases. Of course this applies to the good o’l US of A but sooner or later Legislation must move in to protect the Customer and the Workshops over here too. So you buy your new vehicle and after your free service you take it to your trusted Neighbourhood workshop. What the Manufacturer can request is that your Workshop will have to data log the Service, and that’s why OBD2 has been set up with that feature. So if I modify your vehicle I have to data log my changes and if they fall outside government regulated Parameters your car's computer can be blacklisted (and some people are even saying your ECU can be blocked).


I still believe in Personal service as long as that person is knowledgeable. The web carries tremendous information (some funny and some downright dangerous) and we will have to get used to using it, if we want to stay with technology. An acquaintance of mine that breeds cattle with imported sperms found a far cheaper supplier over the net. But as supply goes, our Infrastructure is Ghastly! TNX guarantees a 2-day service- well its not happening and mostly the fault is with our Government (read customs). Send stuff to RSA and you’d be surprised on how long you may wait (2 weeks is the norm.) I am so upset with that- how does our government expect me to do Business with SA if there is no reliable, cheap and quick way to get our goods down there?


On the technological front, we do electronic Fuel Injection. If you have a problem in Tsumeb for instance, you will not have to come to see me in Windhoek. You plug your Electronic Fuel injection into a computer that then goes on the Internet and I can either Tune it on the spot or download the information, work on it, and send it back up later to be loaded into your Computer. This is happening NOW! Well and if your computer box is shot, I’ll send you another one by courier and of you go tomorrow- try doing that with your trusted Carb? Further troubleshooting can be done via manuals that I can send up Electronically (try sending 200 pages by fax?). Of course I still have to rely that the Technician can Read- sigh.


Lets say you want to buy something, you can surf the net ogle it out and even then negotiate with your good friends in the Bank to finance your Dreams. Even here you can “play one of against the other”.


Remember the good old days were you invited people cordially to a braai? Well I still do, but now it is done on the Net. All know who is coming; they can contact each other electronically. Decide who gets a lift with whom and invite more guests, while I can monitor all these activities. No more Matchmaking needed.


Ah yes, coded radios are all abundant because of the “sticky fingers”. May I clear up some misconceptions? No they do not explode or self destroy if you entered the code wrong. Also there is no “chip” (met of sonder Asyn) that burns out and has to be replaced. It just locks and that’s it. You take it to your Dealer with your proof of purchase and he contacts the factory or warehouse. They ascertain that this item rightfully belongs to you and then supply the dealer with an Unblocking code as well as your future code. I normally disconnect the Battery on a vehicle I work on and it so happens that some of these radios then need their code entered. No sweat until an irate Customer phones you demanding a new radio as it has now self destroyed. It then is difficult to Suppress a “ I hope there where no casualties?”


But what does all this help us, if some can’t even speak onto an Answering machine or switch to fax? You might laugh, but quite often I am asked to fax something through- since I use a computer for this, it needs a fax signal to transmit. Well, my Computer dials and then on the other side I can hear the Answer “ Hullo, hullo………(pause, while the other party hears my Computer sending a signal to communicate with the other sides fax machine)……..wat de &*%#$@! Probeer iemand my hierso *&@!$*$%{ (clack)”. Need I say more?


I am a Techno Junkie and get excited new Technological Breakthroughs, but I agree we still have to keep a wary eye on new Technology. Anybody using Windoze should help me get a posse together for Mr. Gates. But please do not run away from technology, in the hope it will not catch up with you. I promise you it will, and then devour you! If you wish to comment.