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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tech Wonders

I was just a kid when the Russians won the race to orbit. I remember seeing the dusk reflection of Sputnik, and hearing the heartbeat of Lika the dog. It was amazing, but even then I wondered what practical benefit could possibly come of such expensive showing off.

Now I am still amazed at Google earth, and especially GPS. My wife bought one of those gizmos last year through her Avon Rep connections. We have found it an invaluable tool when traveling, and even when getting around L.A. to find places we haven't been. Once we load the address and press "Go" a recorded voice tells us every turn to make along the way. It still amazes me.

As the old Road Runner cartoons taught us, modern technology does have its flaws. Our GPS system is no exception. Sometimes our satellite thinks we are on surface streets and it has instructed us to make a "U" turn when in fact we are on the freeway. Many disastrous scenarios could be imagined if we all took our GPS instructions too seriously. It seems that even this wonderful technology needs to be modified by human common sense.

Most of the time we don't need the unit to tell us major highway travel. It is the details near the end of our journey that elude us. Often, however, it is just at that point that we hear the calm recorded voice say, "Lost satellite connection." "Oh great! Now what do we do?" Patience! Patience! It soon gets back on track. Or we may hear that same mechanical monotone repeat the word, "Recalculating." If we decide to take an alternate route, the machine goes berserk either with the recalculating thing or with advice to make a U turn at our earliest convenience.

As sure as I am sitting here typing this post, someone is going to make an extra buck by modifying the technology with specialized versions of the GPS. There could be the British gentry version. "You'd be well advised to turn to the left at the next corner, Sir."

Better yet, the Cockney version. "Blimey, Guv'na ya wonta turn left at da coner."

How about a GPS with a New York attitude? "You're such a schmuck. Now you gotta make a U turn."

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