Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1279 Which Way is Up?

Which Way is Up?

In a world where the GPS has replaced both instinct and maps, there are some curious holes in direction finding.

It all started in the pre-computer age when makers of compasses stopped painting arrows that clearly showed due north.  Stopped, you say?  Yes, stopped.  They painted arrows in strange colors and you never knew in which direction they were pointing.

Some pointed north.  But others pointed south.  And computerized maps and GPS systems are just as confusing, having switchable views that rotate the maps.

It’s a wonder they can still sell standalone GPS devices. But they manage, even though most every smartphone has a built in app for that. And they put them in car dashboards to make it harder for thieves to swipe by merely breaking a window.  

Actually who would steal a dashboard GPS, with no aftermarket value even though you paid way more for yours than you should have?

The scope of computerized maps has widened considerably.  The early models were great at getting you to 42nd street to 39th street.  Where they failed was in finding anything outside a major city that has streets in a grid formation.

The old fashioned way:  If you were heading north on Madison Avenue at 49th, looking for 38th, and the next block was 50th, you were going in the wrong direction.  

The new way: If you’re heading north on Madison Avenue at 49th looking for 38th you get routed all over midtown until the GPS lady (it’s always a lady) finds an “appropriate” way to get onto Park or Fifth.

So maybe the GPS can’t tell the difference between north and south any better than maps from Google or Yahoo or MapQuest (is MapQuest still around, and if so, why?)

Our earliest GPS would tell us “your'e are not on a road.  Go to the nearest road for directions.”  At the time, our street was so new, it wasn’t yet in the system.

So in the age of omnipresent technology, we get our directions from the sun and the North Star.  At least we know which direction is which.


-When the weather forecast says “northeast winds at ‘x’ mph,” does that mean the wind comes from the northeast or goes toward it?


--The Weather Channel is in a fight with DirecTV which wants to charge more for access and dropped the channel.  Direct says who needs the weather channel when you have the internet?  But this isn’t about access, it’s about money.

--Christie’s second apology ran only a few seconds, compared with the first one that went 107 minutes.  He tacked it on to his State of the State speech which somehow seemed less exciting than in past years. Evidently, there’s a traffic jam between his mouth and his listeners’ ears.

--Is the president of France romancing a woman while his live-in girlfriend is hospitalized?  If he’s bored or lonely, why doesn’t he just do something like a statesman? Like close lanes in front of the Eiffel Tower.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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