Monday, February 07, 2011

Don't Trust Your GPS 100%

Whilst I still believe that GPS makes life easy, by making sure that you'll get home, even if you have to make a 100km detour, the purpose of using such a device should be getting where you want to go with the least distraction and inconvenience, which my GPS was unable to deliver in my recent holiday home to visit my mother. It isn't that I don't know the way but I just want to get to know my GPS better. So on my outbound trip I set my destination to my mother's place expecting Mr. Daniel, the Englishman who would be my guide at crucial junctions and exit points, to pronounce his commands intelligently. Leaving my daughter's house in Petaling Jaya, Daniel guided me out of the city into the highway. I 'patted' his back for a job well done. But then he began to behave erratically. He started telling me to drive off the highway at every toll exit towards the trunk roads. I resisted Daniel thinking that after a few 'recalculating' he would take the hint and stay quiet for the rest of the drive until a major exit appear. Daniel, perhaps thinking he is Mr. Know-It-All, kept misguiding me all the way until the exit to Bidor when he correctly took me to my destination.

On Saturday when I left my mother's and taking the same route back, at the traffic junction after the bridge between Kampong Koh and Teluk Intan, Daniel decided that I should take the coastal road instead of the highway. Maybe he prefers the countryside. Calling the shot he commanded me to turn right. But I turned left, so Daniel began to recalculate a new route for me. Thinking that he is a smart Englishman, that he would plot a new route to Bidor and then the highway, remembering the route I took a few days earlier, I left him to guide me but no, Daniel kept telling me to make a U turn, not less than 15 times. Obviously he was annoyed I did not obey him at the bridge and insisted I turn back at every opportunity he can find. Daniel forgot I was in control of the wheel. Finally when I exit the Bidor toll into the North-South Highway, Daniel threw in the towel, conceding defeat and tracked me to the Bukit Lanjan Interchange an hour away.

I must say that the battle of willpower between Daniel and me could have been conceded to the Voice if not for the fact that I know the way. Otherwise I would have been taken for a ride by an Englishman who may never have been to Malaysia! Which is to say that you should try to know the route you want to take to go to your destination and resist being sidetracked by a total stranger. But in city driving where the roads are more complex I would surrender to Daniel's guidance. I think he would make a great city guide but not one in the country.

I could have mis-set the priority: fastest time, shortest distance or off the road, but I believe that a good GPS should be intelligent to 'read' the mind of the driver and react intelligently. Or newer models should allow for pre-determined routes to be saved for other drivers to follow.

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