Friday, April 01, 2011

842 Conspiracies!

842 Conspiracies!

In March of 2009, about three years ago, this space was devoted to the foibles of navigating by GPS. Tech years are shorter than dog years. So here we are, two years later and times have sure changed.

Even though the technology has skyrocketed and prices plummeted, almost no one buys these devices anymore. Why? Because they come built into many new cars or because your “smartphone” has a built in GPS application.

So here we have two conspiracies. One, the “guys who are out to get you” have a much easier time tracking you. Between the GPS and the EZ Pass, everyone who wishes has the ability to know your every move. The smartphone travels with you both on wheels and on foot. So spying on you is even more detailed than previously.

You never know when an enemy agent awaits you in the candy aisle of the grocery store, the next table at the restaurant or even in the car behind you.

Better watch out, you paranoid. (You’re important enough to track and follow? Highly unlikely. Someone has the time to track and follow? Equally unlikely.)

But increased sophistication aside, there’s a newly emerged conspiracy that’s even more sinister than your psychotic fears.

The new kids on the block are the gasoline companies. How so? Check out some of those routes the GPS gives you. Say you’re heading east on Route 27a. You want to get onto route 27, which runs parallel. So you stop in a parking lot, let the GPS find your spot and then program in your destination.

You know all you have to do is make a left, go a mile or so and make a right and there you are. But that’s not what the GPS tells you.

Here are the instructions: “Make a left in two blocks. Turn left onto Central Parkway and go one block. Then: turn right on Yale Rd. Yale road turns out to be a dead end the gizmo didn’t know about and discovers only belatedly. So it tells you “make a U turn proceed back to Central Parkway, turn right on Central Parkway. Turn right on Babylon turnpike. Turn right on Route 27.”

The thing has taken you six blocks out of your way. Your Lexus SUV has used twice the gas it would have if you had followed your nose. Plus “Route 27” isn’t marked “Route 27,” so you don’t really know you’re in the right place until you make the turn and travel awhile. Assuming all the “27” signs are still standing, you will see one within a mile. Which may already be beyond your final destination.

You will pass at least two gasoline stations in that trip, and they will be beckoning you. And if you fall victim to their siren song, they will send a nice payoff to Exxon.

(For reference: Wessay™ #520 Knowing What You Don’t Know: .)

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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