On my 21 hour jaunt to the Washington DC area earlier this week, I had the honor and privledge of having GPS in my mafia car. I typically don’t get GPS in my rentals because they’re either not available or I already know where I’m going (I’ve been in SF-Oakland enough now where I’ve pretty much got it figured out). In this case, however, the area was pretty foreign to me and I had a couple of different places to be. One was to pay a visit to a relative I’ve connected with online and grab some dinner. Upon calling him and letting him know I had a GPS, he just gave me his address and that was all I needed. No “turn here” or “make a left at the Mobil.” So nice.
While walking on the street, we were discussing the true beauty of GPS devices when it occured to me that as GPS devices proliferate our lives more and more, I could envision a time when physical street addresses will actually become less important or even a relic, like vinyl records. I blurted out that in a few years, we’d be able to just assign each house or location the equivilent of an IP address and when you “give someone directions” all you need to do is give them your coordinate.
Of course, this means the mail system would undergo some type of crazy upheaval and yeah, it seems horribly impersonal to have your house reduced to a pile of random numbers. But, hey, we’re all just numbers. Social Security has been around for multiple generations now. The mail pretty much works by zipcode only. Your car is tracked via VIN. I could go on and on…….but it was an interesting little bit of conversation and one that made me think.
Oh, by the way, the GPS saved my ass! Is Rand McNally still in business?
I try to tell myself that I’m not a gadget freak, but it’s just totally useless. I give up. I loves me the gadgets. The latest addition to my frivolous pile of plastic and metal goods would be the TomTom 510 GPS Navigator. GPS Navigator, you ask? But aren’t you the guy who works mostly at home, Jeff? Well, um, yes I am, thank you. Do you really need a GPS, Jeff? Um, probably not.
That said, I own it and it’s my life. And don’t worry, I didn’t pay the $399 it typically retails for. I’m not THAT frivolous! I paid $199 for it. Which is another great mystery about gadgets – when you see they’re selling off for cheap, even if you don’t need it, you get it, because it’s a good deal. But I digress. I’m here to talk about the GPS.
It actually has come in quite handy over the last few weeks as Steph and I cruise all around finding addresses to look at houses. And Monday night, in fact, I took a drive down to New York for a work meeting yesterday and it proved to be extremely helpful in getting me there with no problems at all. So I will use it.
The machine itself is pretty snazzy:
It’s got all the standard maps and nice little additions like marks on the map for gas stations and rest stops. You can pay a little more and get points of interest (restaurants, etc) but I’m not feeling the need for that at all. I’m just tired of printing directions to get places. Anyway, you also have a bevy of languages to choose from and a whole big list of choices for voices (rhyme). You can use an Irish woman, an elderly woman, normal American voices, etc etc. You get the point. So I’m scrolling down through the voices and I see John Cleese as an option! Of course, I’ve selected him. So now I’ve got John Cleese telling me where to go. Literally, not figuratively.
The best part? Cleese is actually a wise ass on the GPS! For example, when you get to your destination, he remarks that you’ve reached your destination and that there isn’t any more he can do for you, then adds that he’s not going to carry your bags, either. But he does wish you a good day. And when you have to turn around, he says the following, verbatim, in his snarky English accent:
Turn around when possible, so that you’ll be facing in the opposite direction from the direction in which you’re directing your vehicle………….now.
That alone is worth the price of the machine. Or not.
Now playing: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – All In A Day