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34 SMT Magazine • May 2017 A few weeks of life with my new car, with no major disappointments, though one thing did start to get annoying. Equipped with the latest LED technology headlights, brake-lights, and turn-signals, most other lights in the car utilized the old technology, heating up a thin brittle piece of wire until it is white hot within a vacuum inside a glass bubble. Fire and gasoline: a great combination. The waste of energy, the massive localized heat produced all around the car, just did not appeal to the engineer in me. A quick look on some Chinese websites revealed some amazing new LED technology to replace pretty much every old-school bulb in the car, without a significant cost. Now, with my car more fresh-looking and energy efficient, I won- der why car makers choose to save a few cents, if anything, to make my car look as though it was lit with feeble little wicks from lanterns dating back to the early part of the last century rather than going for a modern look. I was tin- kering with options that were not a part of the car makers' option list. Replacing some internal bulbs in a car is one thing. I also read in forums that some owners of cars similar to mine were also changing the ve- hicle operating software. While some of these changes seem minor, such as to make the car default, to not cutting the engine when waiting at traffic signals, which seems (in my mind) to save a tiny amount of fuel compared to the wear and potential damage to the engine and related equipment. It opens up a couple of tricky issues. First of all, how do we know that the modified software is legitimate, that it is based on the lat- est official version from the car maker, and that it will work perfectly, given the plethora of con- nected software-driven devices in the car? What is the motivation of the person providing this fix? Have they introduced a "back door" into the software with some ulterior and potentially deadly motive? The car manufacturer will sure- ly cancel any warranty on finding out that such changes have been made, as the car maker can no longer be responsible for the behavior of the vehicle. Servicing and support costs, the fixing issues within the warranty period of cars could get prohibitively expensive very quickly, plus of course, the potential liability in the case of a se- rious accident. Then there is the insurance com- pany, who most likely will feel the same way as the manufacturer, especially where cars to- day provide more and more aids through hard- ware / software technology. And that people are very likely to take for granted, after a very short time, their ability to decouple their thoughts from the actual driving. This whole area is an absolute minefield. The risks associated with changing the soft- ware of a car are not too dissimilar to changing or hacking software on the shop-floor. Looking around a system database, there are many files, often with what may seem like meaningful file names, some which are human readable, such as in XML format. It can even be seen when these files are updated. This apparent simplici- ty however is just the "tip of the iceberg" of the layers of data storage and management within a manufacturing system. Most files within the system structure contain more data than is im- mediately obvious, with data fields that have inter-dependencies with other files. An XML file may sound quite standard these days, but the content itself is not standardized in any way. Take for example the import of design data. There may be a file created that appears to con- tain a list of reference designators, including such things as XY position, etc. The file is likely to contain additional data, such as fiducial in- formation, and also links to dependent infor- mation such as internal part numbers; material shape codes; vendor profiles; approved vendor lists; MSD profiles; etc., and in fact, potentially any information that could be needed to gener- ate optimized machine programs. The file may appear to be the converted contents from de- sign, but may in fact be a critical intermediate file in the engineering process of the informa- tion. Reading the data is not so simple, as not IF IT'S MY DATA, I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, RIGHT? " I was tinkering with options that were not a part of the car makers' option list. "

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