Sunday, February 24, 2013

GPS... The Good Idea That Has Not Yet Arrived...

Are you thinking of buying a smartphone, and thinking you'll get that navigation system in the bargain?

Yeah? You are? Well... think again... You'll get a system... but largely it's a system that enriches apple and Verizon... costs you... and is the sort of material best applied to the dirt in a garden...

Any conversation about the damned things is filled with the unending stories about people being led by their electronics getting into places they never should have gone... past Caution Signs warning them not to proceed... but proceed they did, and all parroting the refrain; "But MY GPS SAYS...!!!"

Apple, Verizon and most all the others, Garmin included! are going to try to sell you on the superior technology of THEIR GPS navigation systems...

There is a truth hidden in there... ALL OF THEM... will only, if you place reliance on them, mislead you to a different place. Be that a mile... or 75 from where you were trying to get.

The Simple and Plain truth is...  GPS Navigation systems will only work Long enough to lull you into complacency and let your guard down... so that it can lead you and your 63', 29,000 lb, 8 1/2 foot wide rig onto a sidewalk with no turnaround, four miles past the sign that says No Travel past the point you passed 12 miles ago!

Keep your paper maps and learn how to read them... GPS is a convenient accessory to old fashioned Map Navigation... but it is an accessory ONLY. Reliance on it will cost you. Rely heavily enough on it... and it will cost you dearly.

I am one that knows the weakness and poor reliability of the things... yet I still on occassion, attempt to utilize the things. I foolishly keep trying to give 'em a second chance. I might even get successful directions three or four times in a row...

Just a fool that keeps digging after he finds himself in a hole!

Trying to get from Ak Chin to Phoenix International Raceway yesterday...across unfamiliar roads... I failed to double and triple check the "Technology"... and it likely cost me 75 miles or so of fuel... arrrrrgghhh!

(and if they are intended to simplify navigation... why is it necessary to double check, triple check, and then check again... all ending with having to out of necessity... go back to the reliability of paper map navigation???)

I had even CHECKED the navigation details the night before to see if they took me in the direction I wanted and needed to go. I pulled up the text details and yup... that's where I want to go. Great.

Well, just after lunch we climbed in the rig, I pulled those directions back up, stuck the phone to the dash and off we go... "Turn left and follow blah blah blah for 16 miles..."

EXCEPT! ... this time... punching the same link I'd checked the night before... the damned thing gave me different directions... BUT... I missed that! By the time I caught on, we'd gone too far on the new "Circuitous" route to turn back... The shortest way was to complete the BAD DIRECTIONS... arrrrrrggggghhhhh.

Hell, sitting at a red light along the way... Not Moving... the damned thing swapped three times... Go straight... Turn here! ... NO! Go straight... ???!!! 

Those GPS navigation systems might be useful for finding a restaurant in town... a hardware store in a strange town... or some other place relatively close by. Then, when it leads you wrong you've not gone very far... but to rely on it for critical, cross country navigation into unfamiliar country, far from services and communication is an action that WILL lead you to a bad day.

GPS Navigation systems, smartphone based or dedicated are NOT to be trusted as your primary Navigation system. They can ONLY be relied on as supplemental to proper maps. Sorry, but it's the hard lesson of experience and reality.

Hopefully you'll catch on before you've passed the ability of your fuel tank to get you back... hopefully, the "Bad" Place it's led you to is not TOO BAD to get out of...

I keep, every few months, trying to give it another chance ... or I used to.

I am now fully educated. It is an unreliable, untrustworthy and expensive toy that can be used as a contributing accessory... when it can be Double Checked for integrity... Otherwise... PAPER MAPS and map reading skills will be used for cross country Navigation in my Rig.

If you want a smartphone get one. Don't get it thinking you're getting a life saving, simplifying navigation system. That navigation system, whether Verizon, Apple, Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom and all the other whizbang builders want to admit it or not STILL resides right between your ears.

Learn to Read a Map and you'll get where you're going.

Placing Value on Many of the Old Ways...
Brian

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paper is the only way to go!!! Those gps things should be illegal. I drove my rig around North America several times in 5 years with paper map no problems! Wife said she really wanted gps and we have tried about 8 of them...garbage! We normally don't argue but over directions with gps..its none stop! 2013 NO gps for us! Once again Brian "I Agree!") BiLL

Cj Cozygirl said...

Thankful my father raised me to watch his nightly ritual of reading an atlas. One of my fav. past times :) Just received 6 Benchmarks.... #happycamper

John Farnsworth said...

Brian, I love my IPhone GPS! I argue with it, I yell at it, swear at it, and nearly always go a different way.

I do like that my Motion X GPS has a setting that avoids freeways and toll roads whenever possible, though.

Since I travel in a VW vanagon, I can turn around just about anywhere. And I try never to be in much of a hurry.

Tonight I plan on driving the Apache Trail by moonlight, if it's not too cloudy. No headlights when no other cars in sight.

John Juanderlust

Brian said...

John; Apache Trail on a dark starry night. That reminds me of when my spirit needs a night ride. Just me, the wind, the road and the rumble of my bike through the dark. Sweet ;)

hobopals said...

I agree with paper maps being the most reliable; however, for a solo traveler, sometimes, it's difficult to refer to them when you suddenly encounter trouble or a detour.

I like having a GPS, but I'm also pretty impressed with the free or nearly free Mapquest ap for the iPhone. Also has the Next Exit Ap.

John, I like the no freeway/toll road setting, too. Saw many things I wouldn't have ordinarily seen.

Cindy Kingma said...

I hear you loud and clear!! We have maps, Atlas, and Tom Tom to navigate by. I already knew the story (from several people PLUS my son, who has one and taught it to me)about GPS alone is a bad idea. We use both at the same time (to verify the GPS) so no 'surprises'. When in doubt, we believe signs and paper maps. :) I think you're right about the part of being 'lulled' into relying on it alone. Ain't that awful? But they are kinda fun to look at, stuck on the windshield, and making comparisions of surroundings. Don't have a 'smartphone' so I can still consider myself smarter than a devise. LOL

Sharlotte said...

When we went out to Washington pulling my camper and my daughter saw my atlas, maps, and finally the GPS, she wanted to know why we had the maps and atlas as the GPS is all we needed. I looked at her and said, "Because we wanted to get here." She is one of those who depends on the GPS solely, calls maps "old school". Many a day I have been talking to her on blue tooth, and and hear her complaining about why her GPS sent her the wrong way on the road. I just laugh and suggest she get a map, which is met with silence. Although, I think her On Star is a pretty good deal. She navigates with it now.

BamaGurl said...

What I hate most is after it tells u to make a turn u go about a block and it says "when possible make a legal u-turn". Yeah, well, u ain't driving what I'm driving sister or u wouldn't have said make that turn. And the ones on the phones???????? Got me into the worst place, a neighborhood on a high hill with few places to turn something that big around, just thankful I wasn't towin. Should have listened to myself.

turnwhentheroaddoes said...

So very true. There is also a message here about survival of the 'fittest' (smartest). I could go on but could also get into trouble fast...

Janna and Mike said...

Have you been talking to Mike! He loves his paper Benchmark maps. We both just got Straight Talk smart phones and I have used the navigation feature while trying to find something in Corpus Christi.

Anonymous said...

For us, a GPS is just another tool we use to navigate. We research our destination before travel and usually print out paper directions using MaoQuest manipulates to the route we want to travel. We also use the GPS, but when push comes to shove, we rely on the paper directions we printed out prior to travel. The GPS is good for telling you which travel lane you need to be in and for finding places in your local area.

1 More Mile! said...

I learned along time ago to only use the GPS unit to follow a track that I designated. Often, I use Google Maps with street view to fine tune my route, then I export the track file to the GPS.