Submitting to Sat Nav.

I have slagged off Sat Nav for years. I hate it, especially in cars and on mountain bikes. To my mind it's like a spellchecker; something you don't need that invariably leads you up the garden path. Now you Dear Reader are allowed a contrary opinion, fair play. However, this is my blog so I'll just ignore you and carry on regardless. You think having a blog means I'm democratic?

And before you slate me as an old dinosaur out of touch with IT, then you're wrong. I have an iPad and know how to use it!

Anyway, the other week I tried to use it to get to North London. It failed miserably, trying to take me through Wandsworth at 9am. If you don't know London, imagine the original Triple XXX with Zander Cage. Now imagine somebody saying they thought the follow up film was much better. Going through Wandsworth at rush hour is Triple XXX 2.

My wife thought I was, as usual, being an ignorant prick. On the way to Brandon in Suffolk recently she found the dreaded Sat Nav in the glovebox of my car. So she turned it on, on the M25 at Godstone and expected to find the whole process easy and informative. By the second junction she was tired of the nagging, but it was working so she stuck with it. Emerging from the river crossing the device wanted us off the motorway and into the retail park. Not as a break from driving as that was only 30 minutes from home, but as part of the journey. Even my wife, who has no spatial awareness and confuses Farnham with any town North of Manchester realised this was wrong. Why would you want to get off a perfectly good motorway and undertake a tour of a retail park? We ignored it but from then on it wanted to take us off the motorway and onto the side roads. Our children grew tired of the nagging, so we changed the voice to an Australian one. That was better: "Hey, no worries. I said go left, you carried on straight, that's cool. Want a brew with your shrimp?"

Convinced it was the settings, she looked. "Priority motorways" it said. Five miles away from Brandon in Suffolk it was still in bizarre land. It wanted us to pop over to Cambridge first, a detour of perhaps 30 miles in the opposite direction to where we were actually going. Taking a shortcut it threw a big strop. We came to a t-junction. We could see where we wanted to go was to the right - by see I do mean literally see. Device suggested going left and following a twelve mile detour back on to the road we were originally on. Approaching the destination the turn off was 100m up the road. Infernal device stated quite happily to "negotiate off-road" which raised a smile.

No matter how we configured the thing, it was crap. So I remain unconvinced by these things. Yet going to work I see people using them for their regular journeys, which I find odd. I also find odd people that have them attached to their mountain bikes even though they are virtually just around the corner from where they live. You see them slavishly following the device, whilst at the same time not taking in their surroundings. I do wonder how good their rides really are? Perhaps they enjoy the tech more than the ride? But, as this is my blog and my one sided opinion, I'll ignore any advantages and just shake my head in pity.

I'm genuinely bemused by Sat Nav. My niece uses it, and recently drove 20 miles past our house as it wanted a quick visit to Coulsdon. Explaining that Gatwick was actually pretty much on the road we live on, so just head South, she went North as Sat Nav said so. I can cycle to Gatwick in 20 minutes, yet her drive took over an hour, once again via South London. I'm guessing that perhaps some people have a better experience of the system then we do, but judging by road behaviour I'm not so sure. If it works for you Dear Reader, then fine, use it happily, but for me it's just horrid. I'd rather follow my nose, get lost a bit, but learn where I am old school style.

I think the problem may be with the programming of these devices. Google mapping is always spot on, and will not only show you accurately where you are, but will also provide a fine route map. I use this with good old fashioned paper maps and have never gotten lost. The Sat Nav never seems to tie in with what Google shows as is good. It's as if Google have complete control over correct mapping and everybody else has to find ways that are curiously different in some minor but crucial way. The only real benefit I can see from having Sat Nav in your car is that it tells you where speed cameras are, but as countries like France will fine you for this facility, then even that is rendered a bit pointless.

To sum up, the device we had is like having the world's most complicated calculator, one that wants to show off. 7 + 1 please. "Oh yes, that's 12 divided by 24, times 2 add nine and subtract one." Er, what's the answer again?