Ming the Mechanic:
Product Secrets

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Product Secrets2002-06-26 19:50
by Flemming Funch

Grr, I really don't like monopolies that keep secrets from you in order to control you better. See this article about how car manufacturers keep the repair codes from their computers secret for anybody who isn't their own dealer. In case you don't know, all modern cars are controlled by an onboard computer, and very often the only way of diagnosing or repairing anything about the engine is by talking with the computer. But if you aren't allowed to know what its codes mean, you can't. The result is that around 10% of all car repairs can not be carried out, because the repair person doesn't have access to the computer codes, and he will have to tell the car owner to go away and go to a (much more expensive) dealer.

I was having a problem of a similar category in the last few days. I was trying to set up my cell phone to connect with my cell service carrier's Internet service. For the technically savvy reader - I'm trying to subscribe to the carrier's GPRS service, so I can then have my PDA talk with the phone in my pocket, using Bluetooth, so I can run always-on instant messenger programs and access webpages for monitoring servers, while being away from my computer.

For one thing, my cellular carrier, Cingular, is covering up what it is really offering behind a lot of marketing gobbledygook. The service that delivers GPRS (which is a standard protocol) is called "Wireless Internet Express", and is the upgrade to "Wireless Internet", which runs by a GSM Data connection (another standard). Their website doesn't say anything about that, so one has to go search on websites to find somebody who knows. I suppose they think their customers are stupid and don't need to know what they're getting.

Anyway, I quickly figured that part out. Worse is that, even though I can subscribe to the service, they're not going to tell me the access information. Most other cellular carriers just have a webpage that tell you the stuff you need to enter into your phone. But Cingular currently is the only GSM carrier here in California, so there's no impetus to be helpful. Their idea is that you have to buy their phones, which will come with the right codes already set, or they won't help you. And their codes are not anything one can guess. They're cryptic passwords and IP numbers.

So I have to spend a few hours on bulletin boards where technically minded Cingular customers have figured out the things I need to know, so I can type the proper settings into my phone. I got that far.

But then, the ridiculous thing is that one still needs the carrier to do certain things to turn on the service properly. So, there are bulletin boards full of advice on how to social-engineer the customer support representatives into giving you what you want. First of all you have to count on going through 5-7 different reps, in multiple calls, as many of them have no idea what you're talking about, or will tell you they don't sell that service, and it isn't possible. Then you get hold of somebody who does know what GPRS is. Then you need to persuade them to turn on the service even though you didn't buy the phone from them, and that usually involves pretending that you DO have one of their phones, and avoiding that they try to talk you through configuring it. Quite a circus.

And all of that just because a company refuses to make public the most basic configuration settings for their service.

I want a free market for information.

The traditional defense for that kind of behavior is probably that it is trade secrets, and these companies need to protect themselves from their competitors. And that they want to ensure that people get quality service.

And one might suggest that I could just go somewhere else if I don't like the terms. I can buy another car or get a cell phone elsewhere. But, no, I'm talking about the situations where there are no other choices. There are no car brands that freely share their computer codes. There are no GSM cell service carriers in California that publish their configuration information.

It is not a free market if there's only one choice, or if all the choices are the same. I want choices. And I will almost always choose a service provider that delivers a high quality product into your hands, that is honest about what it provides, and that voluntarily will tell you how to use it.

Dishonest companies will try to avoid telling you what you're buying and will try to maintain ownership and control over the product, even after you've bought it. And such behaviors are often necessary to cover up that their product or service isn't of very good quality.

I'm hopeful, however, that self-organizing communities on the Internet will more and more force companies to become more honest, or go out of business.

For anybody who might need the details of my cell phone discoveries, the best forum I found for that kind of information is: [link]

And, for the record, if there are any other Cingular cell phone customers who end up here, looking for how to connect their phones with GPRS, these are the settings you'll need:

Basic GPRS:
IP Address:
Access Point: wap.cingular
Password: ZJULDAGEN98810

Newer TCP/IP service:
IP Address:
Access Point: isp.cingular
Password: ZXY203DC9K0402

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27 Jun 2002 @ 05:23 by istvan : Dear Ming,
I am glad you are talking about this subject.
Many people are feeling that somehow they are being stuck almost to the feelings of slavery. They are right about the feelings, but not the causes. One of the most fundamental ways the powerful of human societies have maintained control over the populace have been and is now are technological tricks to use basic needs as ilusions of services they provide for these needs. The needs are created by them and the solutions are the way they get you.

I have tried to create some interest in this phenomena on the technology site in the subjects section without any success. Either people are not interested or not willing to spend time on this.

Yet the realities indicate to me that our slavery starts here and then moves on to other levels of mental, and spiritual control.

The automobile: I have tried to figure out why people are so attached to their wehicles, to the point of worship an sacrifying large amounts of energy toward them. The only explanation i came up with is that the car, the tool and symbol of mobility crates an illusion of freedom. So the companies knowing this use the desire to enslave and their technological solutions are the methods to this.
Right down the line all tech fields are set up to ensnare and keep the custumer in control. This is really the basic method and success of capitalism.
To create a new civilisation we must create new technologies that are not in the control of the peopleusers.

You should post this article in the technology section, may be more of our members would check in once in a while. Together we should be able to come to sme solutions.  

27 Jun 2002 @ 06:40 by kay : About cars and some other tech stuff...
I have a small electric car for scooting around in. Wayne has a combination car that uses both gas and alternatives. In our new housing development we have built roads that the water runs through instead of off of, only electric cars are used. The power sourse is our own. We are building energy free homes now. So there is some progress being made. Wayne is accessing chemo that is DNA interactive to the point that it only effects the cancer celss and not the rest of the body functions. It is not yet available in the USA but it has totally fried the tumors. It is a matter now of ridding the blood stream of possible tell tale cancer cells. Thanks Ming, ZD for you inputs. I think a lot of folks are interested in keeping up with the Jones'. It is gonna take a willingness to live a more simple lifestyle.  

27 Jun 2002 @ 06:43 by jstarrs : Ah! Burroughs had it, all along!
"Don't let them see us, don't tell them what we are doing! "
Are these the words of the all powerful boards and syndicates of
the earth?
"- Don't let them see us, don't tell them what we are doing!
Not the cancer deal with the Venusians, not the green deal!
Don't let that out!
Disaster, disaster, unevaluable disaster!  

27 Jun 2002 @ 07:25 by bushman : Hmm
lol, well accualy the fact is you can get all the codes for making those ajustments. You ever see those snap-on tools trucks? Did you know anyone can walk up to these trucks just like an icecream truck. Yep, they carry everything you need to fix your car including the cable to go from your laptop or just buy thier cart that comes with the codes and updates for new cars as they are produced. Theres no real secrets if you ask the right persons. Your not a machanic if you don't use snap-on tools, lol. Hey, J, they don't have to tell us anything since thier own works will give them away. We need only to pay attention and stay in focus to see thier act.  

27 Jun 2002 @ 07:55 by kay : Thanks......
.....Bushman for the info. It pays to speak up. You can get good feedback that way. But this one I am going to check out for myself.  

27 Jun 2002 @ 14:15 by ming : Simplicity
It is of course silly to run around buying new things just because companies are advertising them and tries to make us believe we need them.

But I don't really buy the view either that we just need less of everything, and more slowly. I would like our technology to be in harmony with nature, so that it isn't an ecological crime to manufacture it, or to use it. And I'd like there to be clarity about what various things are good for, or not good for, and what they really do. But, given all of that, I would want access to the technology that most efficiently allows me to do the things I need to do.

I would want to be as free to move around as possible, and I would want to communicate as easily as possible, wherever I am. But, given any choice, I'd always prefer to do those things in cooperation with Mother Nature.  

28 Jun 2002 @ 00:17 by vaxen : Yes flemming...
and I am truly sorry that you have had to go through such a run around. Wo'nt be that way forever, though, and in that you might have a bit of solace. Companies lie Cingular wo'nt last. Their 'business' model sux and any Company whose concern is not the people they 'serve' will not last as well. RIght now they can afford to be cowboyish in their attitudes towards their customers. There is nothing that they have that cannot be hacked. Nothing!

Incidentally there is something akimbo in your MySQL, I think, for in logging into the main area I get:

Warning: Unable to jump to row 0 on MySQL result index 127 in /home/ncn/public_html/mem/communicate.php on line 163

Warning: Unable to jump to row 0 on MySQL result index 127 in /home/ncn/public_html/mem/communicate.php on line 164

The above comes between 'Silvermoon' and 'Infernos Life Story.' I'll login again later to se if it is just a temporary glitch or something more serious. Take care bro and keep fighting.


29 Jun 2002 @ 09:36 by chaiyah : Living with sustainable cars
...I have no car now, but if I did, it would be a car that doesn't need computer codes to service it.
...In fact, there is a restored 1940 DeSoto down the street that looks pretty good because it is a simple machine, for which a machinist can actually machine the parts from scratch, if need be.
...I'm kidding. I want an electric one, when they come down in price.  

30 Jun 2002 @ 03:47 by maxtobin : Products

30 Jun 2002 @ 03:51 by maxtobin : Products
Try www.navman.com to check out some product from NZ manufacturer for e-nabeling your PDA as a mobile device/position definer, this is truly an area of ineterest. Technology moves fast and we do need to stay aware of the consequences, in every sense there are some wave lengths of EM that are fine and some are poisonous, also same goes that we are all pewrhaps sensitivce at differing levels. Just don't take anything for granted always look under the hood long before you need to do the preventative maintainence  

8 Aug 2003 @ 05:18 by tobias obasa @ : venerate(plea)
sincerely i want to achieve cos am of zest to learn from the expert.well its the common practise is that proficient engineer never want to encourage the novice,well i believe this tergiversate course could change the dint of success for me cos i want to achieve. sincerely i want to be proficient in repairs on mobile phone ,tracing, circuit reading. well i must attest to the success achieve when there is a change in deal.pls i want to be enlisted in your mailing list and receiving catalogs.
yours Sincerely
tobias obasa  

8 Aug 2003 @ 07:08 by ming : Zest
Eh, well, good luck with that. I'm sure you will be a good engineer. But this is probably not the place. Although, maybe somebody can connect you with the right place to pursue your career.  

11 Mar 2006 @ 00:21 by Shirley @ : What to do next
I entered in the Newer TCP/IP service:
info, but now I keep getting a message that says subscribe to GPRS first. How do i do that? Help, thanks

21 Apr 2016 @ 08:53 by Dernell @ : sdtRPShrcCcc
What a pleasure to find someone who ideenifits the issues so clearly  

21 Apr 2016 @ 19:20 by Kailyn @ : ctwarccCcOLjSsvsNl
Very true! Makes a change to see soomnee spell it out like that. :)  

Other stories in
2004-02-28 18:00: Verisign sucks
2003-11-03 15:02: Jews
2003-04-21 14:45: Smoking guns or not?
2003-04-04 15:00: War and Comedy
2003-01-31 15:23: Personal responsibility versus law
2002-11-23 20:21: War is Fun
2002-11-19 23:22: Digital Rights Management
2002-08-26 23:27: Corporations
2002-07-09 21:16: Recording artists on downloads
2002-01-16 21:50: The Man Who Bought the Internet

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