I came across the following quote recently, when reading an article about the Toyota recall woes:
…it’s too early to say whether quality has actually slipped, since today’s vehicles are far more complex than their predecessors, making more recalls inevitable…
I take issue with that statement, because … well, because to me it’s wrong. Quality should be a measure independent of the complexity of something. How well something works, and whether it’s better than other comparable things. That’s pretty straightforward to quantify. Is it more difficult to achieve quality in a system that’s more complex? Sure, I don’t doubt that for a second. But can one use complexity to justify away poor performance? Don’t think so.
This ties in with discussions I often have with people, that end in a “Pfft, it’s just semantics” scoff from their side. Well, no – semantics is what it’s all about. You can scoff at whether I’m being too nitpick-y about the nuances of meaning, but semantics does matter. Without it, conversation would be pointless.
On a more practical note, that article (discussing the “sudden unexplained acceleration” being investigated on Toyotas, with accelerators apparently becoming stuck) made me wonder whether this is yet another small notch in the “humble manual transmission” column. Sure, a car with an automatic transmission also allows you to try engine braking or putting the car in neutral. But in a panic situation, you’re a lot more likely to do something you’re used to doing – and in my car, I engine break or coast on an almost daily basis. The premise and promise of the automatic, on the other hand, is that you rarely have to think of any settings beyond Drive and Reverse.
Continuing with that train of thought, I would love to take one of those winter-driving courses where they teach you how to maintain control of your car in all sorts of conditions. Obviously, in part this is because learning this stuff can’t ever hurt. But in part, it’s also because I would be very interested to know just how far a car can be pushed in certain conditions, and there’s no way I’d be trying to figure that out on, you know, an actual road. Maybe when my car is old and I’m not so over-protective of it.
WordPress was acting up yesterday when I was trying to write this and upload a picture, so sadly, no picture today.