Tag Archives: navigation

GPS Navigation

Yes, I understand that the turn is half a mile past the big field, but my GPS knows that, too.  This would be easier if you weren't about to ask me to repeat it all back to you.

These days you need an address to get anywhere. It has to be an exact address too because that’s what GPS systems need to locate the place you want to go to. I know that Google Maps has the ability to find intersections by typing the street names and city (such as “Katella and Harbor, Anaheim, CA”), but haven’t played with GPS systems enough to know if they can do that as well. It’s actually kind of annoying when I know where a place is and can get there, but don’t know the address off-hand to plug into the GPS. I would tell someone “It’s at the corner of so-and-so. Just take so-and-so highway to blah street, make a right, and it’s at the corner of so-and-so.” I would get a response “Ok, that’s nice, but give me the address.” Then I would have to Google the address so I can give it to them to put in the GPS.

Maybe it’s just me, but everyone I know who uses a GPS system (or even Google Maps) never bother to review the directions before taking off. It’s like they will blindly trust the thing to pick the best route. One time while visiting Los Angeles my friend trusted the GPS to take us from Disneyland to a diner. We ended up getting on the freeway, connecting to two different freeways, and ending up on a street of the same name. It felt strange to me that there would be two streets of the same name that was so specific that I looked it up on Google Maps. It was the same street. We were actually a few blocks down from Disneyland. What had happened was we got on the freeway and went south, then east, then north, and then west. We drove the long way around just go down a few blocks!

They always say take everything on the internet with a grain of salt so I always review the directions and look at the bird’s eye view when I use Google Maps. It doesn’t always work, but it works enough to have a backup plan. It amazes people that I’m able to navigate to places that I’ve never been to before because I can read a map and pay attention to road signs and markings without needing a GPS yelling directions at me. The perfect GPS system would be a 2D top-down map view (not that tilt view because it makes the map unreadable) that auto-rotates with the direction of the car and announces the name of the next intersecting street or upcoming highway exit. Unfortunately, the masses will never adopt such a system because it requires thinkage on the user’s part. Fortunately, Rand McNally still makes paper maps.