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Tag Archive: GPS

Apr 26

A complicated relationship with a GPS

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there” – Yogi Berra

“If you think Missouri isn’t beautiful, then you should take the drive Bonnie took me on last weekend”, my friend Paige said.

Who is Bonnie, I wondered, thinking I’ve never heard Paige mention a ‘Bonnie’?

“She is my GPS,” Paige answered and added that somehow Bonnie knew exactly what she needed that day—a peaceful and serene drive through the beautiful landscape of Missouri back roads.

“I was going from Kansas City to Jefferson City and Bonnie told me so confidently to turn off of I-70 onto Highway 87 and take that to Highway 179, that I did. It is as though she knew I needed my emotional batteries recharged with a picturesque drive in the country where I saw rolling hills, gorgeous flowering trees, green, green grass, cattle grazing in the valleys and charming farm houses and barns.”

Paige continued, “How did she know that is exactly what I needed?” I think Paige meant that rhetorically, but I answered anyway.

Well, I said, “She isn’t Suri, so you couldn’t ask her why, because of course one cannot have a two-way conversation with a GPS as one can with Suri.”

We laughed, and Paige then explained more of her story, “Bonnie was patient as though she was listening to me and intuitively taking me through a ‘road less traveled’.

“Part way there, “ Paige said, “I stopped for coffee and water. She didn’t like it as we know that no GPS wants us to veer off course or stop. I let her rant for awhile because she probably needed to, and after all, she had not had a chance to say anything for a long time.”

And thus, we have a perfect example of how we form relationships with our GPS, sometimes love and sometimes hate, or more likely annoyance and dependence.

It’s the GPS racket that bothers my husband.

When we drive out west, we take a short cut because we know it goes directly to my brother’s house. Dominique, our GPS, does not know this and fusses at us incessantly with the familiar admonition “recalculating, recalculating”.

Finally after enough of this noise, my husband will ask me to turn down the volume. She annoys him, but because of the love-hate relationship many of us have with our GPS, he also misses her reassuring voice and wants to be sure he is on the right road. Dominique will know. Then he asks me to turn up the volume.

I found an online story by Anna North about some interesting relationships people form with a GPS.

She writes: “More than one dude has fallen in love with the female voice on his GPS unit. She’s so trustworthy, so calm and reliable.”

North gives an example of such a case. Bruce Feiler of the New York Times wrote that he had “fallen for my GPS voice”, and says he knows several guys who have developed a crush on the disembodied voice that tells them where to turn. Wives and girlfriends might be lifting an eyebrow at that one as we speak.

Additionally, we know that couples often argue about whether to take the GPS lady’s directions or not because she is not always accurate.

I have met business travelers who say they would never leave home without her, knowing that she has saved them at the last minute when they were late for a meeting. However, she has also sent them down tangled dirt roads to the hinterlands.

Even though that soothing voice is almost human, we begin to wonder at times if my Dominique and Paige’s Bonnie are simply ignorant, out of touch or behind the times.
Sometimes they simply cannot find the shortest, fastest route. Goodness, it can be maddening.

Although we may love and hate our Global Positioning System and its voice, we must admit that these units, similar to any other technological device, are indispensable.

The problem is that the minute the devices leave the factory, the maps are outdated.

A business traveler’s guide I found gives a solution: there is always the old-fashioned way if one is lost. Ask a local, and switch off your GPS, just so she knows who is boss.

But somehow, I don’t think my Dominique would approve.

Think of it this way. If your GPS lady had a Facebook page, she would have to say on the profile page under ‘relationship”—it’s complicated.

Aug 27

In love with a GPS

“A new gadget that lasts only five minutes is worth more than an immortal work that bores everyone”
—Francis Picabia.

I bought a new gadget recently, a GPS, and I am in love with it already! Don’t tell my husband though. He hasn’t noticed yet.

Since I have to take a road trip soon to an unfamiliar city out of state, a GPS would provide safety as well as a sure arrival at my destination and eliminate countless stops for directions. It makes complete sense does it not?

Additionally, GPS is being used in medicine, commonly called GPS for the body, to help surgeons perform exact radiation treatment for cancer patients.

GPS is used to fly airplanes, track criminals, determine property boundary lines, as well as numerous other important uses.

It is a “going Jesse” as my cousin Al used to say.

I am practicing excuses so I can explain my purchase to my husband so don’t mind me.

My longing for a GPS began when my friend Beth bought one for her husband Larry. Of course, she and her son Dylan are the ones who actually have possession of it, and I doubt if Larry ever gets to use it. The same will now be true in our household.

I also blame our own sons for hooking me on this Global Positioning System thing and cementing the idea in my head.

Two of the sons went together and bought a GPS for their younger brother as a graduation gift. Since I am a confessed gadgety gal already, I coveted it immediately. I was very strong though and avoided the urge to purchase one until now.

Earlier in the summer, I attended a family reunion on the east coast and rented a car in Washington, D.C. The car came equipped with a GPS allowing me to scoot around the city and the freeways like a pro, never once getting lost.

That almost sealed the deal right then and there, but what finally pushed me to purchase one was another road trip, this time with the son who has his own GPS. He named his Gigi because the voice on the GPS sounds a bit French and very much human. Gigi only tripped us up once when she insisted on taking us through town rather than on the highway loop. Gigi took us “as the crow flies” to a Chinese restaurant where we wanted to stop for lunch. Her only miscue!

On my D.C. trip, my rental car GPS guide sounded French, too, so I began calling her Suzette. Come on now Suzette get me through this, I would plead. She always did.

As in all things with gadgets, they know more than we do. I learned that GPS never makes a mistake; any incorrect route is due to pilot error. However, Gigi and Suzette correct human mistakes immediately and provide a detour, never leading one astray. You will arrive at your destination in exactly how many minutes they say you will.

I am naming mine Dominique.

Francis Picabia said one more thing about gadgets that applies here: “Only useless things are indispensable.” Gigi, Suzette, and Dominique are not useless.

End of argument. Do you think hubby will buy it?

Aug 14

Boomers are gadgety geniuses these days

“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three,”
–Alice Kahn.

Who wants to be left behind when it comes to mastering the latest electronic gadgets?

Not baby boomers.

Think again in case you believe in the prevalent myth that baby boomers are techno phobic and cannot master high tech electronics.

Truth is we boomers love our gadgets so much that we are actually becoming good at them.

Evidence supporting this trend is all around us.

For instance, I recently observed a high-tech 80-something couple at the outlet mall. They were walking through a store talking to each other on their blue tooth earpieces. Quite the sight, and yes, I have to admit hip.

Hip octogenarians! Who knew?

Additionally, there are a growing number of savvy baby boomers that can text, surf, YouTube, iphone, Blackberry, IM, and GPS with the best of them. Even the Wii is hot for seniors.

Baby boomer Steve practices golf on the Golden Tee video game in arcades. He enjoys the exercise except for one time when he swung the wand a bit too hard and dislocated his thumb. We won’t count him.

Seriously though, there is a little game of golf that actually fits in your smart phone and may be safer than playing it in the arcade if you get into it as much as Steve. The game unbelievably holds four complete 18-hole golf courses in a handheld device.

Beautiful scenery. Blue skies. Mobile relaxation. No green fees!

My friend Beth has a new Blackberry, and let me tell you she can text message using predictive text like a 13-year-old. My sister Pat has mastered IM (instant messaging) lingo.

Even my technologically challenged husband can maneuver his way through a cell phone menu, most of the time that is. Granted he cannot retrieve voice mail yet, but soon. We are hopeful.

I am impressed with this cool, “chichi” (trendy) technology. Might as well learn the techno slang while we are at it.

Thus, after battling indecision for months, I joined the throng and bought an iPhone.

I uploaded my contacts, set my voice mail, and located the included GPS. I have not actually tried to navigate with it yet.

Side note: there are iPhone “gestures” one must master, and the terminology is strange and new to boomers. We are told to flick, drag, tap, double tap, stretch and pinch, and touch and drag.

I am working on these skills, but once I get my email account set up, Katy bar the door! For prior generations, this term is an American expression meaning get ready for trouble.

Could it be, however, that we are in love with these amazing gadgets because they seem magical, enchanted, mysterious, and thrilling. As Arthur C. Clarke once quipped, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And certainly as we boomers age, we can be assured that we will never get lost when we take our daily walks using magical “advanced lifestyle tools” such as a GPS-equipped walker!

I don’t want one of those yet.