Debugging and the Car Repair Shop

For our summer vacation this year we rented a camper and drove it all the way to Greece where we spent ten adventurous days on the island of Crete. The first high point of our adventure happened already the third day where some 200 kilometers before Athens low oil indicator turned on indicating a problem with our vehicle. We stopped and checked the oil level, but everything seemed normal and we continued to drive despite the oil indicator blinking red. So I spent the next three anxious hours driving and running different scenarios in my head what we will do if the engine breaks down. Fortunately, nothing such happened but since it was Sunday we didn't try to find a mechanic in Athens but we boarded the ferry to Crete and decided to check what's wrong with our camper there.

For some strange reason Citroen repair shop in Heraklion is coupled with Mercedes repair shop so the garage was so clean as this would be Germany and not south of Greece. But what really surprised me was the fact that a mechanic didn't get under the car or bent over the engine, but instead brought a laptop and connected it with a cable to a socket next to a driving wheel. For the next hour or so, the mechanic was starring at the screen of his laptop, occasionally clicking with his mouse and calling in his colleagues to discuss results of the diagnostic tests, while (to my great surprise) paying almost no attention to the car itself or its engine. At the end, the mechanic just closed the lid of his laptop, disconnected the cable attached to our car and announced that the car will be just fine and that low oil indicator blinks no more.

The whole ordeal was one of the more pronounced demonstrations I've seen lately of software eating the world, in this case, the world of automotive repair.