Saturday, February 2, 2008

Backseat driver in the front seat

When I got the new car in December, it came with OnStar. And, though it wasn't a selling point for me, it turns out that I like it.

One OnStar feature is "Turn by turn navigation." Basically, you contact OnStar, tell them where you want to go, and they send the data to the car. The turns show up on the radio display, and a voice tells you where to turn.

Only, I can't get that feature. Turns out, the car doesn't have some extra feature on the brakes, and without that feature, Turn By Turn Navigation won't work.

Not sure why, but that's what they tell me.

So, after seeing my disappointment, The Wife surprised me with a GPS for Christmas.

Now, Christmas was a while back, sure. Over a month. And, in that time, I haven't used the GPS. Mostly because I know my way to work and back just fine.

GPSBut, yesterday, I went to a place in Atlanta that I hadn't been before. And, I took the GPS with me. And used it in the company vehicle.

I found that that, sure enough, the GPS device works.

Too well.

It found where I was, it found where I was going, and showed me ... and told me ... where to turn.

Then, it did something that I didn't expect. It told me I was driving too fast.

In case you couldn't tell, the GPS was telling me, "You are exceeding the speed limit."

I know the quality is horrible. Try recording a video on your cell phone while driving 65 MPH in an unfamiliar vehicle.

And, no, it's not the first GPS device I've used.

It's the second.

The first was in the desert in Kuwait back in the early 1990s. No one knew how to use the thing. We hadn't had time to get training on the thing. At least, none of us in the HMMWV that day had.

All we were able to do was get GPS coordinates. No map. No voice. No nothing. But numbers. Longitude and latitude, if I remember correctly.

And, I would tell, based on how the numbers changed, which direction we were going.

In the desert. No roads. No landmarks, other than rising and lowering elevation of sand. And us, a single vehicle, off by ourselves, on a mission.

With a big paper map of the desert, a GPS, and no training on the device.

We got where we were going, did the mission, and got back.

I much prefer the GPS that tells me where I am and where to turn.

If only it wouldn't nag me about my speeding.

I've got a wife that can do that.

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