Twitter acquired Threader! Learn more

+ Your AuthorsArchive @Foone Hardware / software necromancer, collector of Weird Stuff, maker of Death Generators. (they/them) ko-fi: Oct. 14, 2021 3 min read

Reddit just informed me that there are people actively data mining OTA firmware updates in order to try to predict upcoming features on Tesla cars

Individually all that makes some amount of sense but I'd never been struck by the entirety of it. Reverse engineering to figure out upcoming features on a car.

Excited to start a new career where I'm data mining toaster updates to see if they're finally gonna implement single sided mode for all the Bagel Fans out there

my point is that it's one of those things where if you take every every single step it makes some amount of sense:

cars have computers in them now, and have for a while
wireless access is common
computers need update
new features can be added by updates
feature updates need supporting updates, so you can find clues to upcoming features

much like video games and phones, some cars have fandoms now so if you can figure out those updates coming up you can get a lot of clicks

but it's just weird to think of from a perspective of even like 40 years ago

it's like, you know how cars need repairing from time to time? well, sometimes they can be "repaired" to add new features, like aftermarket parts, right?
and computers are getting smaller and cheaper all the time, so eventually cars will have computers in them

I know, it's 1981, so many cars already technically have computers in them, they're just very tiny embedded ones.
well, these will be bigger and better computers. they'll have screens and can play music and movies and games and shit

ok but some of these repairs will basically just be to the computer, they'll be updates to the software. basically imagine you have to go to the store and get a new 5.25" floppy disk to put in your car

but it's the future so the car doesn't run on gas, remember.
but hey, having to go get a floppy disk is a pain, right? so they use a sort of radio-transmission to send your car the data

it's actually based on cell phone technology but you probably don't know what that is, despite them technically existing in 1981.

and I'm not even going to mention the internet

so yeah they can send your car updates using the radio stuff, but here's the thing: people want to know what cool new features are going to come out soon, prior to the car company announcing them

so professional hacker types... oh wait "wargames" hasn't come out yet so you don't know what that means.
uh... computer geeks look into those updates to try to see if they can figure out what features are coming out

and why do they do this?
well... you know how TV and radio are free because of the advertising? well something similar happens with... a computer thing in the future.

so they're gonna write about what cool new features they think are going to be added soon, and then people will go look at it, and their advertisers will pay them because people looked at the thing and saw the ads

why yes the future is complicated why do you ask

it's kinda like pacman... you know pac-man, right? it came out late last year? have you been to an arcade?
it's a game where you eat dots...

well people are going to figure out how pacman works and write books explaining how to beat it. it's that kind of thing, except instead of games, it's your car

fun fact: the original pacman has no randomness.
The monsters either react to you or to a timer, and the game has very large timing margins which means you can literally play it blindfolded by memorizing which moves to make

correction: this is only mostly true.
there is randomness in the movements of the monsters when in the "Frightened" mode, which they enter after pac-man eats an energizer. While they're fleeing they randomly pic directions to go

The Pac-Man Dossier is a great document on how Pac-Man works. It's a lot more complicated than you'd expect for such an early arcade game, each ghost has distinct AI. 

You can follow @Foone.


Tip: mention @threader on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Follow Threader