This is fine if you also know where you want to go. The GPS device will tell you how far your destination is, which direction to travel, how fast you are traveling, and thus how long it will take you to get there.
Pretty slick. Unless there’s a canyon, or a large body of water between you and your destination, and you happen to be walking.
Enter the laptop computer with a database of maps of the entire North American continent. And your car, with a power adapter to keep the laptop running.
We’ve all used MapQuest to find places we’ve never been to before. That can be pretty handy, except sometimes they’ll plot your destination on the north side of the interstate when it’s actually on the south side. Not usually a big problem; unless the next exit is 8 miles down the road.
But MapQuest is internet based, meaning you have to be online to use its interactive features (like zoom in or out, or move the map around.
Carol and I have been playing with Microsoft MapPoint software and a GPS antenna that plugs into the USB port on the laptop. No more internet connection needed! Now we can drive around and the map will move with the vehicle always in the center. We’ll never get lost again!
Well, actually ONE of us can drive around while the other one operates the laptop and offers directions. There’s no way someone could both drive and use this
(I guess if you ran off the road and had your cell phone, you could call the tow truck or the ambulance and tell them exactly where you were. Well, within a few yards. Close enough that you could hear their siren and direct them in from there.)
We just got this new toy (laptop with software and a GPS antenna) and haven’t tried it out yet. I’m anxious to do so. Up till now all we’ve done is plot our position in our back yard. If you zoom all the way in and walk around it actually shows you moving!
I envision a day soon when Carol and I are driving to a new destination, like our daughter Joy’s new apartment in Florida. I’ll be driving, and she’ll navigate.
Me: “So how far till I turn off the interstate?”
Her: “I can’t get the software to link up with the GPS signal.”
Me: “Why not?”
Her: “The computer is looking for it in Com Port 3 and it’s installed in Com Port 4.”
Me: “Try unplugging the antenna connection and plugging it back in again.”
Her: “I DID that. It didn’t work.”
Me: “Let me see the screen. Oh, OK. Try—“
Her: “LOOK OUT FOR THAT TRUCK!!”
Me: “OK, I’ll drive. You figure out the computer.”
Her: “THANK you! Ah, now it’s working. Let’s see… OK, take the next exit and turn left.”
Me: “No problem. OK, I’ve turned left. Now what?”
Her: “Wait a minute. This thing shows the time to destination increasing. OH! You turned the wrong way. I meant right.”
Me: “OK, I’ll turn around.”
Her: “No. Keep going. I see another way to get there up ahead. You’re going to turn right this time.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Me: “The sign up ahead says ‘Road Construction, Next 10 Miles.’ Are you sure this is the best way?”
Her: “Yes. OH!! You were supposed to turn back there! I didn’t know it was so close.”
Me: “Well, I can’t turn around here. How far to the next intersection?”
Her: “A long way. You HAVE to turn around.”
Me: “Well, I can’t. I think this road takes us to Orlando.”
Her: “Fine. We’re supposed to be going to Tampa.”
Me: “Why don’t you call Joy and ask for directions?”
Her: Extra-dirty look.
Like I said, we’ll never get lost again. We may not get to our destination, but we’ll always know right where we are!