Saturday, January 26, 2008

Technology fails again

GPS gadgets are all the rage and we must admit we're as enamored of them as much as the next fellow.

But as with all technology, the information one gets out of the system is only as good as what goes into it.

Recently two examples of GPS failure have presented themselves they are shared here for your amusement and caution.

One morning a couple of weeks ago a large tractor trailer edged it's way down the 100 block of Jackson Street. It stopped at Livingston as the driver contemplated making the turn. A resident approached the driver to advise him that, even if he could make the turn onto Livingston, he'd most likely not be able to negotiate the turn from Livingston onto Mercer.

The driver appeared perplexed. As he gazed at his handheld GPS unit, he asked where "Heavenly Ham" was.

Heavenly Ham is in Mercer Mall, not on Mercer Street.

After being redirected, counter to whatever his handheld gadget was telling him, the driver had to back his rig up and out onto Market Street during morning rush time.

This morning, a car was slowly creeping along Market Street, the driver obviously lost. After turning around it pulled up to the curb and the woman in the passenger seat lowered her window to ask where Saul's Funeral Home on Greenwood Avenue is?

Directions were given while the driver continued staring at his GPS. He smiled and offered thanks for the course correction while shaking his head at the unit in his hand.

"Worthless," he said.

So much for technology.


Chrissy said...

We've gotten so good at maps, and have online services like mapquest and and google maps, AND we all have cell phones, so we're never really lost anymore, anyway, that I could personally never justify a GPS, even though they're kinda cool, and I like maps a lot (crime map coming soon, I promise!). We recently looked up a store in Mt. Laurel while my in-laws were here last year, that they wanted to go to (don't worry, they did plenty of local shopping/eating too!), and mapquest directed us to the last patch of undeveloped forest in southern Burlington county. We dead-ended right at the fire road leading into the woods. I wanted to go in (for kicks, not because I thought we'd find the store), but no one else did (chickens!). So we drove around Rt. 38, the common sense choice, and found the store within 5 minutes. Technology fails again! Or lies, I'm not sure which.

Old Mill Hill said...

Sailors will tell you that charts and maps are fine for general information, but nothing beats local knowledge.

The inherent delay between acquiring location knowledge and the publishing of it in maps, electronic or otherwise, leaves room for sizable margins for error. Couple that with the fact that whoever is gathering and entering the data (from afar) doesn't realize facts such as Greenwood Avenue runs from Nottingham Way in Hamilton Township into Trenton where it ends at the intersection with S. Clinton Avenue, only to "resume" at Clay Street and run to S. Broad.

Even the mapquests and randmcnallies fail to "keep up" with some of the important changes.

Blind faith, in technology or anything else, is never wisest choice.

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

Can we agree that GPS is, for 98% of all who own them, the most pointless piece of trendy technology ever created?

I thought we could.

I would have given the people in this piece wrong directions on general principle, but I'm a curmudgeonly misanthrope.