Thursday, October 06, 2011

GPS & me...

So, about the GPS...

I have a really good sense of direction, and I didn't flunk geography. Plus, I have a vague grasp of how the US Interstate system is laid out. Thus, for example, if I wanted to drive from Indy to, say, Dallas without becoming a FOPA test case on some roadside in Illinois, I would nav my way from Indy to Louisville and thence to Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock and on to the Big D.

Even if one doesn't know the numbers of interstates, this task is facilitated by great big signs hanging over the road telling you to which city this road will take you. Is the city between your starting point and your destination? Then you are on the right road.

So when I bought the GPS, it was mostly because they'd become cheap enough to make a decent roadtrip toy, with their running Time-Speed-Distance display and calculation. If nothing else, you could make a game out of trying to shave time off your projected ETA.

But I did discover one thing for which they're very useful, at least for me. Whizzing into an unfamiliar city, headed for an unfamiliar spaghetti bowl of entangled interstates, having Robby the Robot prep you ahead of time for your exits and lane changes is handy. Instead of having to read signs and try and psychically figure out which lane you're going to need to be in to get from I-65 South to I-40 West, while simultaneously dodging the drooling morons that make up urban freeeway traffic these days, you can now let the Auto-Nav feed you the correct lanes while you concentrate on moron-dodging. That's handy.

17 comments:

Roberta X said...

Ah, so you did make it. I was ready to send out the rescue Clydesdales.

Tam said...

The battery on my phone expired fairly early yesterday...

JohnMXL said...

ETA is GPS shorthand for "I challenge you to beat this time!"

Roberta X said...

Did you not get a charger cable for it? Should I FedEx one to you?

Roberta X said...

Plus, you realize I have to go yank about a dozen GunBroker listings now? Wow, is my face red! ;)

Bubblehead Les. said...

True story: Last winter a older couple out West went on a Trip, and they followed their GPS. It led them into the middle of Nowhere, in the Winter, and they had to start playing "Survivorman". Search and Rescue goes out, can't find them. One of their kids gets a Bright Idea, uses his identical Model GPS system, put in where there were supposed to be going, and it takes him smack dab into the Middle Of Nowhere, where he finds his Parents are melting Snow.

Moral of the Story? Tells us how things went in San Francisco.

Bram said...

I love GPS because it allows me to explore. I can get off the Interstate, wander around, find a place to eat, or just look around. Then it will lead me back to the highway in short order. Getting lost just doesn't happen any more.

Homer said...

Had to overcome my native Ludditeness earlier this year and buy a GPS when I retired and moved 2 states away from where I'd been for 20 years. City-to-city is ridiculously easy, especially to those of us with compass-and-map experience, finding individual houses in suburbia/exurbia from a realtor's list, not so much. Not that it can't be done from a paper map (and, a paper map is a necessity), but it's so much faster to use the Voice on the Dashboard as a route filter, especially when you know that of the 15-20 destinations on that day's drive list only 1 or 2 will be worthy of sticking in memory someplace.

Anonymous said...

Approaching Indy eastbound on I-70, rush hour, just trying to get through,road signs plastered over with galactic duct tape,post apocalyptic reconstruction of freeway alignments in progress...GPS is not your friend

John said...

"moron dodging" and in-the-city nav seems to be the best asset. Homer's post covers the rest.

When in St Paul, one could ask where to find the best 'prizessl', a famous Scandinavian verify food.

Firehand said...

Would've been very handy the first couple of times I went to Fort Worth; I finally found I was missing the exit I needed because the sign was one of five on an overpass, and it said 'Exit 1/10 mile'.

YOU try to get moved over to that lane in that traffic in 1/10 mile

westofthewest said...

GPS is great in San Francisco and LA big unfamiliar cities for me and I have to drive around through the guts of them.

10 years ago I did just fine with a Thomas Guide but today that seems almost as befuddling as using a slide rule.

The Raving Prophet said...

Anybody who doesn't recognize the superiority of modern GPS to navigating with maps just hasn't used one.

Sure, you need to back-check the route it gives you with a map if you're in a funky area (major metro areas tend to have better maps and routing than rural ones), but I've been led astray more by Google Maps than I have by TomTom, Garmin, Harmon, or any of the electronic units.

The worst part is if you have the traffic notifications and a long route punched in; you get voice prompts about "recalculating due to traffic" every 10 minutes. That's one thing when the traffic is 10 miles away. It's very much another when you're passing through Nashville and the traffic issue is in Atlanta.

Tennessee Budd said...

It doesn't help that in Trashville, what used to be I-65 is now I-24, the now-I-65 used to I-265, and...oh, never mind.

CTone said...

I travel a lot, making my phone GPS one of the most important tools I can have.

"headed for an unfamiliar spaghetti bowl of entangled interstates," -- Dallas/Ft Worth. Holy smokes is that place a huge mess of over/underpasses. Miss one exit at ten o'clock on Tuesday and you'll still spend the better part of an hour getting back on track. GPS is mandatory if you don't live there.

Will said...

Roberta/Tam:
7-11 has a rack full of cellphone accessories. Which include charger cords. About $10, IIRC.

WV: tumlynes. Timeliness for your tummy. Feed me!...

Ian Argent said...

I run Robbie the googlebot on EVERY trip (though, admittedly, with a cork in it). Including my morning commute.

The one morning I forgot to rack and route was the day Sumdood tricked a guy into wiping his body across the last interstate exchange between me and my destination, while astride a bike with someone else's name on the registration, after leading the State Police on a 3-county parade at speeds approaching 150; and I didn't hit the backup until just *past* the previous exit.

As an aside, I recommend anyone with a new GPS run it on known routes until you get a feel for what kind of moron you have in the box, so you can make informed decisions as to when to override the navigation ensign's Academy-trained ideas...