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Alice is dating with Bob, who is bit close minded. Bob thinks that "women should know their place" and that there are some activities that should be done only by men.

Before dumping Bob, Alice wants to have one last prank. Alice saved 66 000 USD and she wants to buy/build "paranoid car" which can be driven only by Alice.

I know that buying stick drive car in US would be good start, but what else should the car have to make extremely hard for anyone other than Alice to drive?

I know that given the budget and simple nature of security I cannot be 100% sure that no one other than Alice will drive the car. I want a car which refuses to be driven by anyone other than Alice

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closed as off-topic by ckersch, JDSweetBeat, JDługosz, chasly from UK, Frostfyre Nov 10 '15 at 13:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – ckersch, JDSweetBeat, JDługosz, chasly from UK, Frostfyre
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm amazed this has survived on Worldbuilding without a single down-vote or vote to close. This is the sort of question that should surely be on Lifehacks lifehacks.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 9 '15 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK That would be off-topic because it has no worldbuilding aspects. Changing a vehicle's design (I've been ignoring the prank part of this question, by the way) to achieve a specific outcome can be on-topic, as far as I'm aware. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 9 '15 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre both this question and chaslyfromUK's proposed question are about "changing a vehicle's design to achieve a specific outcome". I'm having trouble seeing how either is on-topic. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 9 '15 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK this would be a good discussion to have on meta if you're willing to start it. Maybe compile a short list of open questions that strike you as not about worldbuilding to provide some hooks for the discussion? $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 9 '15 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre - Alice and Bob aren't specific characters? This seems to be very slippery. As soon as you throw up an objection, I can easily find an exception. Rather than deal with the exception you simply throw up a different objection. I'm afraid this just makes me more cynical. For that reason I'll leave the discussion. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 9 '15 at 21:46
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Here's what you a gotta do:

Step 1: Shove a potato in the tailpipe.
Step 2: Take out all the spark plugs and open the gap to at least 1/4".

Then all Alice has to do to drive the car is change the spark plugs and remove the potato.



Alternatively, Alice can remove some screws from the steering column so that the steering wheel comes off of the column, and she can simply take the steering wheel with her wherever she goes, that way Bob can drive, but he can't steer.



Or get a very girly car. Bob sounds like a guy who wouldn't be caught dead in a Hello Kitty Smart Car: (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/7b/59/32/7b59320b2e47c41fb285250d2c2e5dfe.jpg)

Hello Kitty Smart Car

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    $\begingroup$ I have to say that car looks awesome - I'd drive it. And I'm a bloke. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Nov 11 '15 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ Naw, I'd want this car if it's going to be Hello Kitty: savingadvice.com/blogs/image.php?width=375&url=http://… $\endgroup$ – Daniel Nov 12 '15 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ Either that, or slap on one of these stickers: i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTQ1OFgxNTQw/z/VewAAOxys6dSPIzn/… $\endgroup$ – Daniel Nov 12 '15 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ I also saw a pic of a Chevelle painted up with Hello Kitty...Poor car... $\endgroup$ – Daniel Nov 12 '15 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Pavel for accepting, but which method did you pick? $\endgroup$ – Daniel Nov 24 '15 at 14:34
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Since it is a "prank"...

Hide a smart phone into the drivers seat. Wire it for power from the car and connect it to a loudspeaker hidden inside the engine space or some other suitable space. Then write some software that uses the accelerometer to detect when the car accelerates above certain speed from a stand still, checks via bluetooth the distance to Alice's smart phone (or simply if it is connected to the cars hands free), and if acceleration is detected but Alice's phone is not, plays a very loud sound effect that makes it sound like Bob has no idea how to drive a car. You can improve by also checking for Bob's phone, so that innocent mechanics he might complain to will have no problems. You can probably slip him an RFID tag for that matter. Not like the slob ever washed his own clothes before...

Then just make sure he understands that you have no problems with the car and earnestly try to teach him the proper way to drive the car so that he doesn't break it with his fumbling ways.

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I'm not sure how Bob fits into the question, or how this is a "prank".

The simplest way to avoid other people driving Alice's car is to not give them the key. With modern keys, there's an electronic code that prevents the ECU from engaging the engine even if you can physically turn the lock tumbler.

Anyone who can find a way to crack the ECU security can undoubtedly find a way to bypass any other silly system to put on the car, which will almost certainly be far more of a pain to use.

You could, for example, remove the wiring harness from the engine before leaving the car parked, and it would be extremely difficult for someone to walk up and drive it. Especially if you removed the connectors and used single-wire plugs so you had to match wire colors like a passcode. But it would also make it ridiculously hard for Alice, and anyone who really wanted to drive the car would just replace the hacked harness with a stock harness and problem solved.

We used to play pranks on people with older cars by removing the wire between coil and distributor or pulling the fuse to the fuel pump. You could do something similar by routing the wires to something critical through a switch under the dash. But again, anyone capable of bypassing the ECU lock could just follow the wires to the switch and short it.

I certainly wouldn't rely on something as trivial as "buying a stick drive". I literally don't know anyone who can't drive a stick. It takes like 3 minutes to teach someone well enough they can get to the store and back, and maybe 3 weeks to get decently smooth at it. Anything Alice can find the answer to and learn how to do, so could millions upon millions of other people.

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  • $\begingroup$ Its basically: I am with the person who does not understand meaning of sentence: "No, I will not give you my keys" $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Nov 8 '15 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ Then you teach them the meaning by not giving them the keys. Then calling the cops when they try to take them by force. If you're looking for something that isn't actually secure, just as a one-off "lololol you had the keys but it still didn't start" kind of thing, you could either rig a hidden switch to something like the ECU fuse, or add a fingerprint/retinal scanner to the start sequence (better, add both), or just require the user to enter a password (that's what the ID chip does automatically). $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Nov 8 '15 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ If you're looking for actual security that can't be trivially bypassed by someone who's seen you do it, you need some kind of lock/key mechanism, and you need to keep the key physically secure. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Nov 8 '15 at 12:50
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Any heavy car should do. Then hack the software to disable/minimize power steering unless Alice presses a certain button with her foot, or sits in the driver's seat with a special remote key.

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I used to own a car which was, by accident, not unlike what you want.

It had a manual (stick shift) gearbox, but I'm in the UK so there's nothing particularly weird about that, almost everyone here can drive a manual. Mine however was 20 years old and had 160000 miles on the clock, and it's gear selector linkages were absolutely shot.

This had the effect that the gear lever returned to the neutral position when let go, regardless of what gear you were in. Changing gear was an act of faith, and knowledge of what gear you were in. If you handled it gently and exactly the way you were taught to as a learner, you never had a problem, but most people tried to be too rough with it and consequently couldn't find the gates.

If what you want is a quirky car which the owner can drive because he/she knows all it's foibles, but which gives other people endless trouble, then a few different things like this might be a way to go.

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I like Ville Niemi's approach best; ideally, to really humiliate Bob, Alice needs a setup where it's not obvious she's punking him. Reversing the steering, even the pedals, will make it obvious as soon as she starts driving that she's set him up, and that just proves to a guy like Bob that he was right all along. To really make Bob doubt himself, Alice needs a setup that she can drive exactly the same way Bob tried to, and works for her but not him.

First off, this needs to be a car Bob wants to drive. A pink Hello Kitty Smart Car, Bob will happily let Alice tool that around town by herself. A Mercedes E- or S-class, or anything else sufficiently manly and sophisticated, Bob will insist on driving that whenever they're going somewhere together. In addition, the car must appear to be stock; a car that's too obviously customized might give the game away, even if it's purely cosmetic.

The simplest thing I can think of is a button or switch out of sight that Alice can toggle discreetly (or that's built into the seat and reacts to change in body weight), that will change the behavior of the engine control computer (practically all fuel-injected cars of the last 30 years or so have had some sort of computer control). The behavior could be adjusted to make the car idle smoothly but stall when Bob presses on the gas, or revs past some fairly low limit that makes Bob have to drive the car like an old lady. When Alice drives, of course, she has none of these problems (but she should avoid showing off as that gives the game away that the car's letting Alice do things it won't allow Bob to do).

If it's a fairly new car, you could even use the 4G wireless capability of some new models to let Alice hack in through a phone or laptop when she's not riding with Bob. She could do any host of things; kill the motor, cut the power steering, turn on the check engine light (and then have a mechanic in the know give a horrific figure to repair that Alice then makes Bob pay because "it only breaks down when you drive it, it's been fine for me, you must be driving it too hard"), etc. The mechanics could take Bob's money and sneak it to Alice on the sly, maybe with a cut for them to sweeten the whole deal.

Eventually, Bob's inability to drive Alice's car "properly", and the resulting paranoia that somehow Alice's car is out to get him, becomes an indivisible rift in the relationship, and she breaks up with him because she can't be with a guy that's so hung up on a (censored) car.

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Let's assume that Alice and Bob are of different stature. Bob being who he is would not date a girl taller than him so we can assume he is the taller (but it doesn't really matter who is taller).

For the sake of argument we'll say that Alice has shorter legs. When she drives she has the seat adjusted way forward. There is a switch under the seat that detects its position and forms part of the ignition circuit. When Bob wants to drive he has to push the seat back or suffer crushing his knees against the bulkhead. That disconnects the ignition and the car won't start.

If Alice is taller then she makes it so Bob cannot reach the pedals without moving the seat forward -- again disconnecting the ignition.

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    $\begingroup$ There is cars with autoadjusting seats which is connected to the key. So that when the cars is unlocked with a certain key, it will automatically adjust to that key. So set both keys to the same configuration, then disable the buttons for seat adjustment and watch the fun ensue. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Wärre Nov 9 '15 at 8:52
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Wire up an RFID reader near the driver's seat, possibly underneath it, and connect it with the theft protection system.

Now all Alice needs to do is carry the correct RFID tag inside her pockets to start the car. Anybody without it won't be able to, unless they found your gimmick and disabled it (which, i think, would be true for practically every solution)

This way, the unlocking of the mechanism happens without anybody seeing what she does. This should especially make sure Bob gets quite upset when he tries to start the car and fails, while Alice, apparently without doing anything different, succeeds easily.

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Bob sounds like the kind of guy who might be a bit overly aggressive when driving, which could be dangerous. For Alice's personal safety, she should design her car so that only people who have passed the Alice Safety Orientation are allowed to drive (engine ignition being verified by thumb print).

For each new driver, the car insists that they go through a safety test lasting roughly half an hour. Failing at any point causes the car to screech to a halt and makes you start over from the very beginning (including the part where you input your full name, mother's maiden name, birthdate, insurance information, and a security question). Input is by turning the steering wheel to select a letter/number and then honking to enter it.

The actual safety test is a bit variable, but at minimum should require:

  • Listening to a ten minute instructional tape giving the rules of the test, voiced by an overly stereotypical gay man (this will cause Bob to automatically tune out).
  • Never going above the speed limit.
  • Never violating the two-second rule (adjusted to three seconds since Alice is paranoid).
  • Coming to a complete stop at all lights/signs.
  • Never cursing (indicates the user is angry and may drive dangerously).
  • At least once after getting lost, getting out of the car and asking for directions instead of driving around aimlessly.

This ensures that only those who have a proper respect for Alice will be able to drive her vehicle. By a happy coincidence, this will almost certainly exclude Bob.

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