For most of a beautiful Saturday afternoon I installed a new car stereo to the Honda. Previously it had a factory tape player + radio and if it worked properly I would have never considered replacing it. But the unit kept losing power sporadically, sometimes leaving me with an entirely silent commute. Even worse was when it would work for a couple of minutes and then drop out in the middle of an interesting news story. Unacceptable.
So I figured I'd try my hand at installing one myself. Since I'm pretty klutzy and know diddly about cars you may be forgiven for wondering what was going through my head. My approach is similar to software: stereo replacement is one of those things non-gearheads can fiddle with (~skins). Maybe not as easily as oil/air filters (~configuration options), but the fiddle-ability should be higher than heavy-duty car work (~modify + recompile).
So, some impressions. I did start taking photos but stopped as I got more frustrated. (Plus: I'm lame.) I'll post to flickr the final results later today.
There's another interesting parallel with my software experience here: when you're implementing a new system and you're not familiar with its terrain you may find yourself struggling mightily with implementation details. With software I have a pretty good sense about what's reasonable and unreasonable struggling -- in the event of unreasonable struggling I usually figure I misinterpreted something or skipped important instructions. I don't have that sense with cars so it winds up taking many times as long as it should.
I couldn't get it to work correctly -- everything tells you you're supposed to touch the iron to the wire and the solder to the wire; the solder will eventually start melting as the wire heats up. But it never melted! So I did what everything tells you not to do and touched the solder to the iron which, after some trial and error, made it melt nicely over the joined wires. I need to watch someone who knows what they're doing to know what I was doing wrong.
The relief I felt when first plugging in the stereo to the car's wiring and hearing sweet static come from all four speakers: awesome.