JOY AND BOB GO FOR SALAD DRESSING

Later we picked another destination and switched to the Microsoft GPS unit and Streets and Trips 2008 software. As we continued on to the new destination, a restaurant with great salad dressing, the Microsoft software and GPS unit worked pretty well, giving us clear spoken directions on where to turn and how far ahead each turn would be. Coming home was a different story. 

 

Streets & TripsOn the way back home, the unit told us to turn onto a busy highway that was in the right general direction but not the best way. Bob ignored it, since he knew how to get back, and continued driving on another highway that was more direct. Following the Microsoft directions would have added about five extra miles to a 15 mile trip.  

As we ignored the computer’s instructions, it kept telling us we should turn back to the street we had already passed. It kept this up until it would have added another five miles just to get back to that road. Finally, it gave up, accepting our new route and adjusting to it. We got home with no trouble. By the way: These systems will tell you you’re off- course even if you pull into a parking lot to change drivers, so much of their advice can be ignored.. 

What does this all mean? Get a map. It’s cheap, weighs just an ounce or two and requires no batteries. Some people have become so dependent on their GPS system they think they need it to go anywhere. Joy recently rode with a friend who gave her a lift home, and the woman started out by consulting her car’s built-in GPS system, even though she had been to the destination before and knew how to get there. 

If there is any plus side to this GPS routing software it is in the other information it contains. DeLorme has four million points of interest for the U.S. and Canada. Microsoft’s program has about 1.6 million points. DeLorme  had much more information about restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, etc.  

The bottom line: If you need software to help you plan an efficient route, Delorme’s program has more features. It lets you plug in a microphone, for example, and ask questions like “Are we there yet?” (You may need a child to ask “Are we there yet?”) Also, the computer voice in Delorme’s turn-by-turn directions include the street name, instead of just saying “turn right,” the way Microsoft does. Having the street name can be crucial in situations where there are several streets intersecting at nearly the same point or a street is closed off.  In short, Delorme’s Earthmate has better features but Microsoft’s Streets and Trips was easier to use.     

 

 

We connected the DeLorme Earthmate GPS LT-40 receiver to a Sony Vaio laptop, installed their Street Atlas 2009, and started out to drive from our place to a shipping service a couple miles away. We already knew how to get there, of course, but did DeLorme?   

As soon as we left our place, the DeLorme software told us to turn left onto Church Street. Well, turning left on Church would meant turning the wrong way on a one-way street. So we ignored those instructions and continued on north, and the program automatically recalculated the route. But it reminded us that we had seen several cars turn west onto Church St. over the past few months, right into the oncoming traffic. Now we had to wonder if they were simply following instructions from their GPS systems. Fortunately, there weren’t any accidents but it brings up an interesting point: If a driver follows their GPS instructions and turns up a busy one way street the wrong way and gets into a crash, can they sue the company that provided the software? (Microsoft’s GPS system, by the way, makes you click “I agree,” that you won’t sue them, each time you turn on their GPS tracking.)  

The Sony Vaio screen was extremely difficult to read because of outside glare, even though it was a cloudy day. Joy had to cover her head and the laptop with one of Bob’s old shirts – like she was developing film — just so she could read the map. After a couple of blocks she said it was making her car sick. Forget that; we knew where we were going and just went there. 

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