Author Topic: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS  (Read 2142 times)

Offline SGOS (OP)

Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« on: February 23, 2017, 06:35:21 AM »
Today, I would like to talk about the GPS currently available for cars.  There is currently two schools of thought: 1)they work fine, and 2)they are total crap, and I can do it better.  And the debate is often as strident as science vs religion.  From my observations, the participants in the debate seem to be divided by a demographic that parts ways somewhere around the age of 50, but this is just an average.  My friend John, age 70, used to be in the second group.  He prefers a map, but he's changed a bit in the last 4 years.  He points out that the problem with the GPS is that it doesn't tell him where he's at.  And that's kind of true, and I understand that this can be disconcerting.  The GPS only shows you how to get where you want to go.  It dispenses with where you are, and simply tells you where to turn and which way to go.

Now to get to where you want to go, it is vital to know where you're at when using a map.  A map will tell you where you are, but only if you actually know where you are.  If you don't know, you're screwed.  The GPS doesn't tell you where you are, but when you think about it, that information is navigationally irrelevant.  Why care about where you are at if you don't want to be there, anyway?

My over 50 friends, like to argue with the GPS.  My old girlfriend would ignore the GPS and intuitively go a different way.  This is OK in familiar territory, but out in the middle of nowhere, pitting intuition against the GPS often led us to places we didn't want to be.  Why do people argue with the GPS?  But no biggy.  If you go your own way, the GPS will recalculate and plot a new course to where you want to go.  But it seems like an odd response to the GPS.

Another argument against the GPS is that if it's not up to date, it will sometimes want to take you on a road that may no longer exist.  This is a problem, and I've encountered it myself, but the same can be said for out of date maps.  After all, the map in your GPS is derived from an actual map, which may or may not be correct.  The problem can traced back to someone's map.

If two people are in the same car, one can act as navigator using a map.  This would be preferred.  That is, if humans didn't make navigational errors, but two people with a map can argue among themselves and end up in the wrong place too, and I've experienced that enough times to know that this happens enough to be annoying.

Fact is, I haven't even had a map in my car for 10 years.  OK, that's a fib.  I think I could probably find an old ragged one under a seat somewhere.  But I don't use a map anymore.  Sometimes, the GPS takes me down side streets when I know the main road will get me to Costco.  I don't always know what the GPS is doing, and frankly I don't care, as long as I end up at Costco, which I always do.

But for those who are sworn enemies of the GPS, none of this is important.  Doing something a new way is annoying, while the traditional ways, with problems you have grown used to, feels more reassuring.  I get it.

Offline Baruch

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2017, 06:43:35 AM »
Different things.  There is the position locating.  There is the map.  There is the route finding.  The position locating depends on the satellites ... that is good.  The map depends on Google vs Apple, and Apple failed.  Route finding is a simple algorithm, that is just a programmer guessing.  If you know men, and know programmers, the algorithm can't be very good, unless a woman programer writes it ... just ask a man who is lost ... you will find he didn't consult the map (or read the instructions on new equipment).
שלום

Online Mr.Obvious

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 07:18:19 AM »
My car doesn't have a gps in it. I Always say I should buy one, but I never do.
When I need to go somewhere new, eithr my gf checks on her iPhone and acts as gps, or I look it up in advance on online maps and, if need be, make some scribbles.
I tend to do the online map thing anyways, it gives me a bird-eye's view of the place I need to go, making it easier to navigate in the final stretch, should I find some Streets have become one-way or are closed down or ...

Bottom line, I think GPS is more usefull, but I wouldn't throw away maps just yet.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline Baruch

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 07:21:10 AM »
My car doesn't have a gps in it. I Always say I should buy one, but I never do.
When I need to go somewhere new, eithr my gf checks on her iPhone and acts as gps, or I look it up in advance on online maps and, if need be, make some scribbles.
I tend to do the online map thing anyways, it gives me a bird-eye's view of the place I need to go, making it easier to navigate in the final stretch, should I find some Streets have become one-way or are closed down or ...

Bottom line, I think GPS is more usefull, but I wouldn't throw away maps just yet.

I also look things up on-line, then take notes.  Mapping while driving is like texting while driving.
שלום

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 07:22:15 AM »
55 here and like your friend I'm bucking the curve because I love my GPS. So do my parents who are in their 80's now. They tell you where you are, how fast you're going, what the speed limit is, how far to your destination in time and distance, where your next turn is, sometimes what lane to be in for your turn, and even reroute you around heavy traffic. What's not to love. They aren't perfect but few things are. The built in NAV in my Tacoma works well for now, but map updates are pricey to the point where I'll probably turn it off and plug in a $100 Garmin with lifetime map updates once Toyota's are out of date.
Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


Online Cavebear

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2017, 07:34:01 AM »
I still like maps...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 07:55:52 AM »
My car doesn't have a gps in it. I Always say I should buy one, but I never do.
When I need to go somewhere new, eithr my gf checks on her iPhone and acts as gps, or I look it up in advance on online maps and, if need be, make some scribbles.
I tend to do the online map thing anyways, it gives me a bird-eye's view of the place I need to go, making it easier to navigate in the final stretch, should I find some Streets have become one-way or are closed down or ...

Bottom line, I think GPS is more usefull, but I wouldn't throw away maps just yet.

I thinks maps (road maps) are obsolete at this point.  There is still an interest in them, and for overall big picture contemplation, they are interesting, but no longer necessary.  If you are just driving around on vacation, they would be good when the wife says, "Oh look.  Virginia City, Montana is just 30 miles off the interstate.  I've always wanted to go there." 

When I first got started using GPS for driving, I had a program from Microsoft called Streets and Trips.  I still use it at my work station, but it's too awkward for a car, as it requires a lap top and head phones because  it's not loud enough to be heard over road noise.  I own 3 of those small units that stick to your windshield, and they work fine, but my last car I had GPS installed.  That gets more expensive than the little $100 units, and I can only justify it on the basis that it's cool to have it in dash.  Well, it's less cluttered, and mostly hands free, because you can talk to it most of the time, but the dealer soaks you for an extra $500, which is outrageous, except that it's cool if you like the technology.

The smart phone thing makes sense, but I don't like taking my hands off the steering wheel.  They are slightly less convenient than a system dedicated to driving. 

I had a chart plotter and GPS on my boat that I sailed to Hawaii and Alaska.  That is where GPS truly shines.  You are not on a road, so your position is always dicey, but the GPS puts your position exactly where you are, and overlays a radar screen and highly accurate digital chart, so that floating ice bergs, and other boats are always clearly visible.  Collision courses are easy to see long before they might be a danger.  In tidal areas, even tidal currents that presented dangers to navigation showed up on the screen along with readouts for the velocity of the current at any given time of the month or day.  High an low tide information was also available.  For me, it was about as close to a miracle that I'd ever expect to be.

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2017, 08:00:52 AM »
55 here and like your friend I'm bucking the curve because I love my GPS. So do my parents who are in their 80's now. They tell you where you are, how fast you're going, what the speed limit is, how far to your destination in time and distance, where your next turn is, sometimes what lane to be in for your turn, and even reroute you around heavy traffic. What's not to love. They aren't perfect but few things are. The built in NAV in my Tacoma works well for now, but map updates are pricey to the point where I'll probably turn it off and plug in a $100 Garmin with lifetime map updates once Toyota's are out of date.

Mine is always on.  Even if it's a known route, I'm always keeping track of my arrival time for things like catching a movie at a theater, and since I have to drive 40 miles to a theater, that feature helps if I want to stop at a store before the movie... or whatever I'm planning.

Online Cavebear

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 08:43:06 AM »
I thinks maps (road maps) are obsolete at this point.  There is still an interest in them, and for overall big picture contemplation, they are interesting, but no longer necessary.  If you are just driving around on vacation, they would be good when the wife says, "Oh look.  Virginia City, Montana is just 30 miles off the interstate.  I've always wanted to go there." 

When I first got started using GPS for driving, I had a program from Microsoft called Streets and Trips.  I still use it at my work station, but it's too awkward for a car, as it requires a lap top and head phones because  it's not loud enough to be heard over road noise.  I own 3 of those small units that stick to your windshield, and they work fine, but my last car I had GPS installed.  That gets more expensive than the little $100 units, and I can only justify it on the basis that it's cool to have it in dash.  Well, it's less cluttered, and mostly hands free, because you can talk to it most of the time, but the dealer soaks you for an extra $500, which is outrageous, except that it's cool if you like the technology.

The smart phone thing makes sense, but I don't like taking my hands off the steering wheel.  They are slightly less convenient than a system dedicated to driving. 

I had a chart plotter and GPS on my boat that I sailed to Hawaii and Alaska.  That is where GPS truly shines.  You are not on a road, so your position is always dicey, but the GPS puts your position exactly where you are, and overlays a radar screen and highly accurate digital chart, so that floating ice bergs, and other boats are always clearly visible.  Collision courses are easy to see long before they might be a danger.  In tidal areas, even tidal currents that presented dangers to navigation showed up on the screen along with readouts for the velocity of the current at any given time of the month or day.  High an low tide information was also available.  For me, it was about as close to a miracle that I'd ever expect to be.

GPS is useful where it is useful.  Yeah "Duh".  But I mean it is not needed everywhere.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 07:25:35 PM »
  He points out that the problem with the GPS is that it doesn't tell him where he's at.  And that's kind of true, and I understand that this can be disconcerting.  The GPS only shows you how to get where you want to go.  It dispenses with where you are, and simply tells you where to turn and which way to go.
Hogwash. GPS at it very core does only one thing. It determines exactly where it is. That is the ONLY thing GPS does. All other information and features produced by a GPS unit are the result of a computer using that GPS derived position and applying calculations based on it.

But I understand that I'm missing the point you were trying to make which is that most consumer GPS units don't actually tell the user where they are in plain English. And to that I say, hogwash. Most if not all Garmin consumer units made today will tell the user exactly where they're at with a simple button push. It will simultaneously display this information as lat/long numbers, closest address and nearest intersection.

A few years ago my sister and her husband decided to haul their RV camper up from Florida and visit my wife and I here in the midwest. The night before they were to arrive, my sister called me to get directions to our house. The conversation didn't go well.

Her: We need directions to your house.
Me: Just punch our address into your GPS.
Her: We don't have a GPS, my husband doesn't believe in them.
Me: Does he believe in lost?
Her: Very funny.
Me: Not as funny as you two wandering aimlessly all day looking for our house.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful

Offline pr126

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 11:31:01 PM »
Old farts? How dare you!  :bashcomp:

“It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

Offline doorknob

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2017, 12:01:00 AM »
My smart phone has GPS and it shows where I am. I can also scan ahead to see how far I am from the next turn. It reroutes me around traffic, and If i get lost i reroutes me. Even if I'm at a place and don't know the address I'm starting from I can just tell google to use my current location and it does the rest for me. I love it. Easy cheesy lemon squeezy. If you have a smart phone there is really no reason to get lost unless you get no signal. That's the only thing though.

It tells you how fast you are going and what lane you are in. it tells you an estimated arrival time. It also gives you a selection of routs to choose, the default is always the fastest but you can always change that. It also saves locations that you need to find constantly.

If you have a smart phone don't waste money on a shitty gps, just make sure you have plenty of battery a car charger and you'll be fine. THere are a number of free apps.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 12:05:31 AM by doorknob »

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2017, 02:51:04 AM »
I remember the old Mapsquest days.  Dark times.  Miss a turn and you're SOL.

And before that, having to ask for directions.  Apparently, I was one of the few people who used street names to navigate and intersections as coordinates.  Everyone else used landmarks and I'd get shitty directions like "Just go out and take a right after you take a left three lights after you see the Arby's".

Which direction I was supposed to "go out" was left to my imagination and which exact turn I was supposed to take was entirely dependent on my ability to locate a restaurant while driving - a restaurant that may or may not still be there - and then get in the appropriate lane to turn left (or was it right?) before (or was it after?) I pass it.  I loved paper maps in those days.  At least they made some sense.

As others have pointed out, cellphone GPS is a lifesaver.  One time, I had to use one to plot the route to a classroom to take a test on network routing.  I found it to be pretty funny.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 03:04:43 AM by Hydra009 »

Online PickelledEggs

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2017, 03:13:42 AM »
I wish I was a little older when the card catalogs were going out of style. I could have really used a garbage-picked one for all the compartments. So many drawers!!!
"Tell Pilate to release the files!!!" - Bill Hicks
"I have an open mind, but not so open that my brains will fall out" -James Randi
"One who truly hates himself cannot love, he cannot place his trust in another." - NGE

Offline SGOS (OP)

Re: Old Farts and Technology: The GPS
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2017, 06:25:50 AM »
Hogwash. GPS at it very core does only one thing. It determines exactly where it is.
Actually, this is basically it.  All the foo fa, like visual maps, tidal information, time of sunrise, and points of interest, are put there so that knowing where you are has a purpose  (what 99% of the technology actually does).  I think what disconcerts my friend is that most of the time the screen view zooms in so that all you see is a short section of highway covering an area of less than 20 acres.  Yes, there's an arrow there that tells you exactly where you are in that 20 acres, usually within inches, but it doesn't tell you where everything else is.  It's limited to the next intersection or two.  This is not helpful to my friend, who mistakenly feels he needs to know where he is in relation to Tallahassee and Minneapolis at all times.

What gets lost on him is the importance of knowing which way to turn at what intersection.  Is it the next intersection, or the one after that?  And really, this is actually where all of your driving attention needs to focus on at that moment.  Fuck Minneapolis.  If you follow the turns, you will end up there.

However, there's something else at play, at least in the case of my friend.  It's not so much about the effectiveness of the technology, or the flaws, real or imagined, in the device.  It is an aversion to learning something new (actually my friend claims to enjoy learning, and I actually think he does).  Think of all the advancements in society that require people to adapt, sometimes with associated learning curves.  You spend your whole life learning how to read maps.  The Forest Service actually had training sessions on map reading.  Map reading is a big deal.  Anyone can look at a map, but to plot courses at sea, or measure distances between intersections, all requires to a modicum of time invested in learning.

Along comes a new machine, like a calculator.  What???  I memorized multiplication tables, and learned long division for four years of my life, and you're now telling me that was a useless waste of time???  This is what's disconcerting; Confronting the knowledge that all of the effort you proudly expended to be the person you are today, tells you that the person you are today is now obsolete.  Plus of course, you have to learn another fucking new thing.

That's why I drew attention to Old Farts in the thread title.  A new born or a ten year old is not so heavily invested in the way they have learned to do things.  Old farts often are, or so it seems, and as old farts, it behooves us all to try not to reinforce that image.